Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 26
The World Health Organization’s technical committee met on Friday to review evidence on the new B.1.1.529 Covid 19 variant detected in South Africa and Botswana with the global body advising nations against panic reactions and unscientific travel restrictions.
Maria Van Kerkhove, leading epidemiologist of the WHO, on Friday thanked South Africa and Botswana for sharing their findings on the new variant and said, “Everyone out there: Do not discriminate against countries that share their findings openly”.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminatha said the WHO technical advisory group on Sars-Cov2 virus evolution was meeting on Friday to review what is known and plan further studies on the variant known to carry several mutations.
“Meanwhile we need to focus on strengthening vaccination coverage and public health measures. Let us be cautious, listen to scientists and not panic,” Swaminathan said.
India alerted states to the new variant on Thursday and asked them to conduct rigorous screening of passengers from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong which have reported the new variant.
The WHO committee is meanwhile reviewing evidence to see whether to designate the variant as one of “interest” or “concern.”
The Health Ministry back home said INSACOG—Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium—was closely tracking the variant.
The WHO also said any travel restrictions should be based on scientific approach.
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