The new COVID-19 variant identified by South African geneticists called variant 501.V2 is the driver of the rapid second wave across the country, Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Friday.
Mkhize said the collected evidence strongly suggests that the second severe rapid wave that the country is currently experiencing is driven by this new variant that affects young people.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, a team led by the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) has sequenced hundreds of samples from all over the country it noticed that in the past two months, a specific variant has gradually dominated the sample collection results.
“The evidence of changes in clinical epidemiological images particularly pointed out that they saw more serious illnesses in young patients without comorbidities.
The collated evidence strongly suggests the current second wave South Africa is experiencing is driven by a new variant,” Mkhize said.
He said that the research team led by Professor Tulio de Olivier shared its findings with the World Health Organization and the entire scientific community.
Mkhize said this consortium alerts the UK to protect itself from our mutations. It inspected its samples and found a similar mutation in the same location (i.e., 501) prompted their resurrection in London.
“I have to take this opportunity to talk to young people. I announce that we have entered the second wave. Most of them have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, and they still do. Our clinicians warned us the situation has gotten worse.
Young people who used to be healthy now become very sick. Despite all these warnings, we will continue to see a lot of videos on social media about teenagers attending parties, and some of them are even playing kissing games,” said Mkhize.
Mkhize said it is concerning that young people are not wearing masks and are not prepared to follow the regulations in disaster situations.
“Young people cannot only take life-saving measures constrained by the police. We call on parents, caregivers, and our young people to understand that this is not only considering other people’s problems, but you may also die from COVID -19.
When mothers and grandmothers bury their children, we cannot experience the early experiences of the AIDS pandemic. It is the saddest phenomenon. We urge young people to take care of this holiday and find other ways to be safe and happy,” Mkhize added.