At least two KwaZulu-Natal residents returning from India have tested positive for Covid-19, but there is no information on whether they had the dominant Indian variant
SOUTH Africans travelling from India have sparked fears that the devastating variant dominant in India has reached South Africa.
Numerous social media posts started circulating on Monday about the Indian variant being found in Durban. At least two KwaZulu-Natal residents returning from India have tested positive for Covid-19, but there is no information on whether they had the dominant Indian variant.
On Tuesday, Independent Media learnt that a patient who had returned from India was being treated for Covid-19 at a KZN hospital after being transferred from another hospital in the province.
It is believed the patient has been receiving medical care for nearly a month and is still on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. However, there was no confirmation the patient was a carrier of the B.1.617 variant.
Also on Tuesday, 14 crew members on a cargo ship from India to Durban were placed in isolation after one of them died during the ship’s 14-day journey to South Africa.
Port of Durban general manager Moshe Motlohi said before arriving in Durban, and as a requirement for the next port of call, all crew members on the vessel Eaubonne, which berthed at the Port of Durban on Sunday, were required to be tested and cleared for Covid-19.
“Upon arrival at the Port of Durban, all crew members on board the vessel were tested. Fourteen of the crew members tested positive. The entire vessel is currently in quarantine at the Port of Durban as per Covid-19 regulations,” said Motlohi.
He said contact tracking and tracing was being done.
On Monday, Dr Caroline Maslo, senior clinical adviser and head of infection control at Netcare, confirmed that a patient who had recently arrived in South Africa from India was treated in isolation at an undisclosed hospital.
Maslo said that although Covid19 screening was performed at South African border posts, they could not fully rule out new cases and potentially new variants entering the country.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize addressed concerns regarding the B.1.617 variant circulating in India.
“We have not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa. However, we have consulted members of the genomics team who have informed us they have intensified their surveillance,” said Mkhize.
He assured citizens that there were no direct flights from India and that all the country’s points of entry employed stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of Covid-19. They were currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who required further assessment.
National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) acting executive director Professor Adrian Puren said that, as of Monday, the B.1.617 variant had not been detected in South Africa and any suspected cases would be investigated.