Egypt raises level of preparedness at entry ports over new COVID-19 variant

Ahram Online , Friday 26 Nov 2021

Egypt has raised the level of preparedness at quarantine departments at all land, air, and sea ports, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday, after a new coronavirus variant was recently detected in southern Africa.

Cairo international airport
File Photo: Cairo International Airport. Al-Ahram

The ministry also announced raising the levels of detection to make sure travelers to the country are negative to possible infection.

According to the London-based Nature journal, the new variant B.1.1.529 harbours a large number of mutations, including the infectious Delta, and seems to be spreading quickly across southern Africa.

B.1.1.529 first emerged in Botswana then South Africa, forcing many countries, including UK, Singapore, and France to ban flights from southern Africa.

Scientific committees, experts, and researches at the Egyptian health ministry and Egyptian research centres are studying all the preliminary date related to this new variant, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry is following closely the preliminary data concerning the sharp rise of coronavirus infections, especially in South Africa’s Gauteng province, and assessing the relation between the spike in coronavirus cases and the new variant.

Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, the acting health minister, ordered finishing those studies as soon as possible to submit the results to the country’s Supreme Committee for the Management of the Coronavirus Crisis.

The committee, chaired by the prime minister, will then take the required preventive measures to ensure the safety of the health situation in Egypt, the acting minister said.

A group of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are scheduled to convene on 26 November and are expected to label the strain as a variant of concern, Nature cited Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, as saying.

Researchers seek to discover whether the new variant poses a threat to the coronavirus vaccines’ effectiveness and measure the variant’s potential to spread across the world.

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