South Africa detects new COVID variant following Nigeria’s travel ban lift

The World Health Organization said that South Africa had detected a new variant of the coronavirus disease dubbed B11.529. This comes 41 days after Nigeria removed a travel restriction on the nation.

On October 14, 2021, at the presidential steering committee on COVID-19 chaired by Boss Mustapha, the government declared that it had withdrawn the travel restriction it had imposed on South Africa after a review of pandemic activities in the southern African country.

Dr Moeti Matshidiso, WHO Africa Regional Director, told the media Thursday that the new variant was still being investigated. She also expressed worry about an increase in the incidence of infections over the holiday season.

“We have become aware of the new variant, which is the B111.529, and we have seen it in South Africa and Botswana. The information came out yesterday. We don’t know how infectious it is, but there is an urgency to roll out the vaccine to those who are most vulnerable.

“There are lots of investigations going on. As we are approaching the December holidays and people are travelling, there will be a surge in infections from country to country,” she said.

According to the WHO, Nigeria has 1.6 million health professionals, among which 296,123 people received complete COVID-19 vaccine doses. It indicates that only 18 per cent of all health professionals in Nigeria are completely protected, which is one of the lowest rates in Africa.

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