The South African Minister of Health rejected the claim of the British colleague that the new variant of coronavirus in the country is more contagious or more dangerous than the similar one in the expansion of Great Britain.
“Currently, there is no evidence that 501.V2 (variant) is more portable than the United Kingdom variant – as proposed by the British Minister of Health,” Zwelini Mkhize said in a statement issued late Thursday.
“There is also no evidence that it (causes) more serious disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any variant that has been sequenced worldwide.”
Announcing restrictions on travel from South Africa on Wednesday, Britain’s Matt Hancock said the variant there was “very worrying because it is even more portable and seems to have mutated further” than a similar species in Britain.
The words of the British minister “created the perception that the SA variant is the main factor in the second wave in Great Britain,” Mkhize said.
“This is not true.”
He pointed to evidence that the British strain, which has a similar mutation as the South African one, appeared as early as September in the southeastern county of Kent – “about a month before the South African variant seems to have developed”.
Citing the “broadly divided opinion of the scientific community”, Mkhize also argued that “the risks of travel bans may outweigh the benefits”.
“A travel ban between the UK and SA is an unfortunate decision,” he added.
South Africa is the country hardest hit by the coronavirus in Africa, with close to a million infections so far and 26,000 people dead.
About 14,000 positive cases have been detected in the past two days, compared to between 8,000 and 10,000 earlier this week.
Mkhize said on Wednesday that new restrictions could be needed to slow the spread of the virus.
Vanguard News Nigeria