Hong Kong finds new Covid strain in two people travelling from Africa
Hong Kong: The health authorities in Hong Kong have sounded an alarm as two people travelling from Africa have been detected with the Covid-strain that has become a cause of concern in the southern parts of the continent.
The variant -- currently known as B.1.1.529 -- was found in a traveller while the other case was identified in a person quarantined in the hotel room opposite them, the Hong Kong government said late Thursday, Bloomberg reported.
B.1.1.529 carries an unusually large number of mutations and is "clearly very different" from previous incarnations, according to Tulio de Oliveira, a bio-informatics professor who runs gene-sequencing institutions at two South African universities, said at a briefing on Thursday.
South Africa's Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the mutation was "of serious concern," the report added.
At least 100 cases have been linked to the variant so far in South Africa, said Anne von Gottberg, clinical microbiologist & head of respiratory diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the report said.
The infection linked to the virus has also been detected in neighbouring Botswana.
Other countries have already started imposing flight restrictions.
UK said it is temporarily suspending flights from South Africa and five neighboring countries on concerns about B.1.1.529.
Hong Kong has managed to evade community outbreaks so far while several countries have been ravaged by recurring waves of Covid-19 triggered by new mutations.