THE National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that the Covid-19 variant B.1.617.2 has been detected in Mzansi.

This after the NICD sequenced Covid-19 specimens from people who recently travelled to India. This variant was first detected in India, and resulted in the deaths of thousands of Indian citizens.

“The institute can confirm that four of the specimens tested positive for B.1.617.2 – two cases from Gauteng and two from KZN. All cases have been isolated and managed according to Covid-19 case management guidelines, and contact tracing has been performed in order to limit the spread of this variant,” read the statement from the NICD.

This deadly virus is detected at a time South Africans are concerned about a third wave.

Vaccinations in Mzansi are moving at a snail’s pace, with under 400 000 people, a majority of whom are health workers, have been vaccinated in the country.

NICD said another variant, B.1.1.7 that is dominating Covid-19 infections in Europe and North America, has also been detected in South Africa.

Eleven cases of this variant have been confirmed, with eight cases in the Western Cape, two in Gauteng and one case in KZN.

Professor Adrian Puren, NICD acting executive director, said: “It is not surprising that new variants have been detected in South Africa.

“We’d like to assure the public that the institute is focusing its resources and research efforts towards understanding the variants, and what the potential implications are for South Africa.”

Puren encouraged people to continue washing hands or sanitising, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. “Remember to hold gatherings outdoors or in well-ventilated areas, and roll up your sleeve once the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available to you,” he said.