JOHANNESBURG - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that a new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa.

Following genomic sequencing, the variant - B.1.1.529 - was detected in 22 positive cases in the country.

In a statement on Thursday, the NICD'S acting executive director Professor Adrian Puren said that it was "not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa".

The NICD said that although the data they had was limited, "our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be."

The institute said that positive cases were increasing quickly, particularly in Gauteng, the North West and Limpopo.

The NICD's Dr Michelle Groome said that regardless of the emergence of the new variant, the importance of nonpharmaceutical interventions remains unchanged.

“This means that individuals should get vaccinated, wear masks, practice healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather in well-ventilated spaces. Individual compliance to preventative measures can have a great collective impact in limiting the spread of the new variant.”

This article first appeared on EWN : New COVID-19 variant detected in SA - NICD

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