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Vikash Sharma

The detection of a new Coronavirus variant- B.1.1.529 in South Africa has sent the alarm bells ringing among the scientific community owing to the high number of spike mutations that can make the virus more resistance to vaccines and speed up transmission rate across the world.

On Thursday, the Centre issued directives to all states and Union Territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana from where the new COVID-19 variant has been reported.

In view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel, there is every possibility that the new strain of the virus might sneak through, informed Directorate of Medical Education & Training (DMET), Odisha chief Rama Raman Mohanty.

“The Centre has issued an advisory on the new Coronavirus variant- B.1.1.529. As Bhubaneswar is an entry point being an international destination, there is a need to conduct Covid test of the passengers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. We can prevent the spread if such travellers are screened and kept in isolation for 10 days,” said Mohanty.

According to Mohanty, it is still premature to say anything on the transmission rate and severity of the new virus strain. Extra caution should be undertaken along with increased surveillance, testing and isolation measures at entry points, he said.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also asked states and Union Territories to closely track and test the contacts of these international travellers as per the guidelines.

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