Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Photograph:( Reuters )
'We have convened this public briefing today to announce that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus - currently termed 501.V2 Variant - has been identified,' the health minister tweeted
After the United Kingdom, South Africa has also found a new strain of the novel coronavirus which has resulted in a surge of cases, prompting a second wave.
The health minister took to Twitter to announce the news. "We have convened this public briefing today to announce that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus - currently termed 501.V2 Variant - has been identified by our genomics scientists here in South Africa," Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize tweeted.
We have convened this public briefing today to announce that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus- currently termed 501.V2 Variant has been identified by our genomics scientists here in South Africa.#SARSCOV2MediaBriefing— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) December 18, 2020
The conclusion was made on the basis of hundreds of samples that were collected by the scientists since the beginning of the pandemic in March. This research has been carried out by a team of genomics team, led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP).
Explaining the research, the minister tweeted, "Clinicians have been providing anecdotal evidence of a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture- in particular noting that they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no co-morbidities presenting with critical illness."
As per the evidence, the second wave has been caused by this new variant. The scientists have also claimed that the second d wave is spreading faster than the first wave. However, whether or not it has claimed more deaths is not yet clear.
He also revealed that the second wave has become dominant in South Africa as it has reached all the provinces and the new variant has three mutations.
The first case of this new variant was found in the Nelson Mandela Bay. However, the origin of the new variant is not yet clear.
Officials had already notified the World Health Organization (WHO) who have got in contact with the researchers. "We are working with them with our SARS-COV-2 Virus evolution working group. They are growing the virus in the country and they're working with researchers to determine any changes in the behaviour of the virus itself in terms of transmission," WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove told a news conference in Geneva.
This announcement has come a few days after the UK, too, announced identifying a new strain of coronavirus in their country.