South Africans ask government to ban flights carrying passengers from India

Written By: Kalden Ongmu WION
Johannesburg, South Africa Published: May 04, 2021, 07:25 PM(IST)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation address in front of a nearly empty Parliament in strict adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations on February 11, 2021. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

South Africa’s Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize noted concerns raised by the citizens on social media regarding possible importation of the B.1.617 variant circulating in India

South Africans are calling for the government to ban flights carrying passengers from India amid reports that one person tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling to India. However, it is not yet known which variant of the virus they contracted. 

“COVID-19 case numbers currently remain extremely low in our hospitals. We can, however, confirm that one patient who had recently travelled from India was treated in isolation for Covid-19 at a hospital in LwaZulu-Natal,” Dr Caroline Masilo, senior clinical adviser and head of infection control of Netcares hospital division told News24.

The new variant B.1.617 is wreaking havoc in India with daily cases rising to 400,000.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize noted concerns raised by the citizens on social media regarding possible importation of the B.1.617 variant circulating in India. 

“We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimize the importation of Covid-19. We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment,” Mkhize said. 

Further, the minister confirmed that it has not detected the B.1.617 variant, as yet in South Africa.

He added that members of the genomics team have intensified the surveillance not only to ensure that variant can be detected quickly but also to understand what the implications are in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa. 

As of May 3, South Africa has recorded total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases at 1.58 million, 54,452 deaths so far along with 1.50 million. The total number of vaccines administered is 329,098. 

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