Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is set to update citizens on the new Covid-19 variant, which scientists have been studying in effort to find if the vaccines would offer protection against the new strain.
Mkhize will be joined by a panel of scientists including Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the government’s Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, and Professor Tulio de Oliviera, founder of the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), for the discussion.
According to health officials and scientists leading South Africa’s virus strategy, the new variant, known as 501.V2, has been dominant among recent confirmed infections in the country’s second wave, with higher numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalisations and deaths.
The new strain, different from the one in the United Kingdom, had been reported to be more infectious than the original virus.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier on Monday warned citizens that the novel coronavirus may be followed by further waves.
“The first two weeks of the year have been difficult for all South Africans. The coronavirus pandemic has gotten worse, with new infections increasing far faster and far higher than before. Hospitals have been under great strain as more people have needed medical attention.”
“The year 2021 will be extremely challenging, and that the second wave of the Covid-19 may be followed by further waves which will threaten both lives and the economy,” Ramaphosa said.