31 new cases in managed isolation

Grant Boone
January 10, 2021

The South African virus variant, known as 501Y.V2, has sparked serious concern, and the strain has already been described as more infectious than the COVID-19 virus identified at the start of the pandemic.

Six new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Laois today. South Africa named the variant 501Y.V2 because of the N501Y mutation they found in the spike protein that the virus uses to gain entry into cells within the body. The South African variant of the virus has also now been confirmed in Ireland.

The 14-day rate of the virus in Ireland now stands at 1087.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Eleven of the Covid-19 cases which arrived in the country on January 6 have since been identified as part of a group of 190 global mariners who are staying in managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Christchurch arrived in the country on Wednesday.

The variant, known as 501Y.V2, was identified by South African genomics experts late a year ago and is thought to be more contagious than older variants. This mutation was also found in the new strain that the United Kingdom notified World Health Organization in December - which is estimated to have been circulating since September.

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"[The variants are] more transmissible, and if your immunity is only half what it should be, that will increase the risk of transmission", he told Sky News. This variant is expected to be the most prevalent in Johannesburg and other surrounding provinces in South Africa.

The viral lineage leading to B.1.1.7 has accumulated 23 mutations.

On a positive note, vaccination is underway in Europe and North America. In the meantime, travel from South Africa needs to be restricted until researchers have a clearer understanding of the variant's contagiousness and antibody resistance.

A total of three new deaths were added to the Cental Zone today (55 total), which also saw a rise in active cases of 117 to 1,577.

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