By Kaya FM News
The Gauteng Department of Health has issued a warning following a notable increase in new coronavirus infections.
Department spokesperson, Kwara Kekana, says the new cases continue to increase across the province, especially in the Sedibeng District where there was a notable increase of cases compared to last week.
Kekana says over the last two weeks, they have seen an increase in cases in Emfuleni, Tshwane 3 and Johannesburg sub-districts.
Meanwhile, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has moved to reassure communities that they are monitoring travellers who recently arrived in South Africa from India.
B.1.617 variant not been detected in SA
According to News24, a person who travelled from India to SA has tested positive for COVID-19. At the moment, teams are testing whether the person has been infected with the mutated COVID variant which was first identified in India.
A clinical advisor and head of infection control at a private hospital company confirmed that the patient was treated in isolation at a facility in KwaZulu-Natal.
NICD Acting Executive Director, Professor Adrian Puren, says to date the B.1.617 variant has not been detected in SA and any suspected cases will be investigated.
“The institution has tremendous empathy for the dire situation that is unfolding in India and would like to reassure the South African public that we are keeping a close eye on developments.”
Head of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD, Dr Michelle Groome, says teams have taken samples from travelling coming to SA from India. She says their close contacts will also be prioritised.
“This will enable us to detect the B.1.617 and any other variants in a timely manner,” Groome says.
Puren explained that the mutation of viruses is a natural occurrence in the lifecycle of any virus, evident with the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 lineage in South Africa in October 2020.
He added that although viral mutations are unavoidable, adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions have proven to greatly lessen the transmission of the disease.
“South Africans are reminded to wear their masks, wash their hands with soap and water or to use hand sanitiser, and to keep a physical distance of at least 1.5 m from others. Social activities and small gatherings should take place outdoors, if possible, or in well-ventilated areas with open windows and doors, as proper ventilation plays an important role in reducing the spread,” Puren says.
20 Million confirmed cases in India
India has more than 20 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with more than 220 000 deaths.
According to AFP, India’s infections have increased by as much as 8m since March.
Federal and state authorities have been scrambling to get extra oxygen to hospitals, including by sourcing it from industry and sending special “Oxygen Express” trains.
Former co-chair of SA’s Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim has warned that what is happening in India should serve as a warning for SA. He says SA should not be complacent.
SA has a cumulative of just over 1.5m Covid cases with more than 54 000 deaths. The country’s recovery rate stands at 95%.