By Kaya 959 News
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is set to meet in the coming days amid concerns that travellers from India to South Africa may have contracted the deadly Covid variant, first detected in India.
Answering questions from MPs on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the NCCC will discuss the issue of a travel ban.
He says the variant currently ravaging India is concerning.
“We are not only watching, we are also taking steps. The NCCC was meant to meet but we will once we have all our information.”
Mkhize calls for calm
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has called for calm as residents fret over the recent cases of travellers testing positive for Covid.
“We confirm that the B.1.617 variant, circulating widely in India, has not been detected, however, the genomics teams are working on some samples and we will need to allow the time it takes to sequence before we get an answer,” he says.
Mkhize says the variant B.1.351 (or 501Y.V2) remains the most dominant in South Africa. He explained that a Covid-positive patient from India had contracted this variant.
“We remain mindful of the advice from the World Health Organization that all variants are managed the same- prevention by adhering to NPI’s, early detection, contact tracing and testing and quarantine or isolation.
“These all form part of the regulations that govern the management of Covid-19 and it has been through adherence to these regulations that we have detected and contained Covid-19 cases at ports of entry,” Mkhize says.
No direct flights from India
He says there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19.
“We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment. For now we ask for calm to prevail as we continue to adhere to the health protocols, tighten containment measures at our ports of entry and keep a balance as we maintain economic activity,” the Health Minister says.
Meanwhile, both the DA and EFF have called for travel restrictions to be imposed.
By late yesterday afternoon, India had recorded 412 262 new Covid cases. The Indian Health Ministry says they have identified more than 21 million coronavirus cases.
At least 230 168 people who have contracted the virus in India, have died.
Second wave of cases
The country is in the midst of a severe second wave of cases. In the past 30 days, India has recorded 8.3 million cases.
According to reports, since April 22, more than 300,000 cases have been added every day.
Countries around the world have heeded to call to assist the country with relief efforts.
Here in SA, Gift of the Givers (GOTG) will be partnering with other organisations in India which are focusing on “home oxygen” to minimise patient overload at hospitals. Most health facilities in India are overrun and have neither beds nor adequate oxygen capacity.
GOTG says 10 primary health care facilities have been identified where oxygen concentrators will be provided.