South African coronavirus variant identified in NYC, Cuomo says

Ross Houston
February 17, 2021

The first case of a coronavirus (COVID-19) variant initially identified in South Africa has been found in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

A hospital patient from CT was transferred to an unidentified hospital in the city with the region's first confirmed case of the variant, but officials haven't found evidence of community spread in New York, Cuomo said during a press briefing. "All travellers and their contacts tested and quarantined", Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, said.

About the SA variant, better known as B.1.351, Bharagava said that its cases were reported in January in four returnees from African countries.

"Our case illustrates that the 501Y.V2 SARS-CoV-2 variant can also be responsible for severe reinfections after a first mild infection with non-VOC SARS-CoV-2", reads the study.

Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of the Israeli Health Ministry's public health services, said much remains unknown about vaccine immunity and the emerging coronavirus variants, but the South African strain is believed to be more transmissible than others. All travellers and contacts have been tested and quarantined. "The virus strain has been successfully isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV, Pune, and experiments to assess vaccine effectiveness are underway", said Dr. Bhargava speaking at the Health Ministry's press conference. "Neutralisation potential with United Kingdom variant of the virus is there with the vaccine that we have".

He added that the United Kingdom strain which emerged in September 2020 has so far spread to 86 countries including India. "So though there are no direct flights, the government is looking at bringing in measures to check passengers from these countries", he said.

India's Covid-19 cases rose by 9,121 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10.93 million, second only to the tally of the US.

"We don't still fully understand the virus and need to be serious about vaccinating while following COVID appropriate behaviour".

The difference between the recovered and active cases has further increased to 1,04,96,153, the ministry underlined.

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