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New Strain of COVID-19 Identified In South Africa

A new and more infectious strain of the coronavirus was identified in December causing a travel ban to the United Kingdom.  International reports say it is a South African variant and now scientists are concerned that the recently released vaccines may not be effective against this new variant.  Scientists in South Africa have begun testing to see if the vaccines for COVID-19 will be effective against the country’s variant virus.  The genomic studies come as Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, and other experts in the United Kingdom have said they worry that vaccines may not be effective against the South African variant.  In Belize, health officials are keeping a watchful eye as was indicated to us in an interview last week with the Acting Director of Health Services, Dr Melissa Diaz-Musa.  Speaking with Love News from a professional perspective regarding this new variant was the Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero.  Manzanero is currently recovering from Covid-19 and remains on sick leave.  While he is not following what protocols are being taken by the ministry on this new variant he did say that precautions remain the same.

Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “I have read what’s happening with that virus but I haven’t really been keeping with where we are at with the entire Ministry of Health response because I’ve in essence been in survivor mode. I don’t think we would have the ability to detect the strain so the basic prevention measures is what I think would need to continue even for somebody like myself who is recovering from COVID-19 I mean because you can get it again. The only way you really have to go about in ensuring you don’t get it again is  the prevention measures that we all know and understanding that you can’t let your guard down at any point in time.” 

The South African variant, 501.V2, is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in the country’s coastal areas.  It is expected that the variant will quickly become dominant inland in Johannesburg, the country’s largest city, and the surrounding Gauteng province.  South Africa is currently experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 with rapidly rising numbers of cases and deaths that are surpassing what the country experienced in its first surge in late July last year.