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WHO calls special meeting as new COVID-19 variant in South Africa raises concerns

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South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections. Over the last four or five days, there has been more of an exponential rise.

WHO calls special meeting as new COVID-19 variant in South Africa raises concerns
The World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring the recently reported COVID-19 variant - B.1.1.529. So far, under 100 sequences have been reported.
"Early analysis shows that this variant has a large number of mutations that require and will undergo further study. We are grateful for researchers in South Africa and experts on WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) who are assessing this variant," WHO said in a statement.
WHO is convening a meeting of the TAG-VE to better understand the timeline for studies that are underway and to determine if this variant should be designated as a variant of interest or variant of concern.
Meanwhile, this new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province.
The coronavirus evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time.
South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections. Over the last four or five days, there has been more of an exponential rise. Scientists in South Africa are working to determine what percentage of the new cases have been caused by the new variant.
Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travelers from South Africa,
After a period of relatively low transmission in which South Africa recorded just over 200 new confirmed cases per day, in the past week the daily new cases rapidly increased to more than 1,200 on Wednesday. On Thursday they jumped to 2,465.
With PTI inputs
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