'Not true': South Africa denies new variant is deadlier than UK's strain

WION Web Team
Johannesburg, South Africa Published: Dec 25, 2020, 03:39 PM(IST)

Coronavirus in South Africa Photograph:( AFP )

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'There is also no evidence that (it) causes more severe disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any variant that has been sequenced around the world,' South Africa's health minister Zwelini Mkhize said

After the UK's health minister Matt Hancock claimed the new variant of coronavirus found in South Africa is deadlier, Zwelini Mkhize, his South African counterpart has denied these claims.

"At present, there is no evidence that the 501.V2 (variant) is more transmissible than the United Kingdom variant — as suggested by the British Health Secretary," said South Africa's Mkhize in a statement.

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The statement has come after the UK imposed travel restrictions from all incoming passengers from South Africa, citing the new coronavirus variant as a reason.

Hancock had issued travel restrictions on Wednesday and had claimed the variant from South Africa was "highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further". 

However, Mkhize has denied any such claims and said Hancock's statements "have created a perception that the variant in SA has been a major factor in the second wave in the UK", which he says is not true.

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"This is not correct," he said. "There is also no evidence that (it) causes more severe disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any variant that has been sequenced around the world."

To further prove his point, he also pointed out that the new variant found in the UK appeared in Kent county near the month of September whereas the South African once developed around a month after that.

He also said "banning travel between UK and SA is an unfortunate decision" as "the risks of travel bans may outweigh the benefits".

As of now, a few other European countries, too, have restricted incoming passengers from South Africa, in addition to the UK passengers.

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