South Africa’s new COVID-19 variant: Ramaphosa to convene Command Council meeting

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/The Presidency

President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Sunday (28 November) amid concerns about South Africa’s new COVID-19 variant.

This is according to a statement from the Presidency issued by Minister Mondli Gungubele on Friday (26 November).

Command Council meeting on South Africa’s new COVID-19 variant

“President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene the National Coronavirus Command Council on Sunday, 28 November 2021 to assess developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, including scientific updates around the newly detected coronavirus variant,” Gungubele said.

“The NCCC is one of several structures of government – which include the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet – where scientific evidence and submissions by different economic and social sectors inform executive decision-making.”

He added that the government works with social partners to maintain a balance between protecting lives and “enabling people to earn a living and making it possible for the broader economy to recover and grow.”

“The outcomes of the NCCC discussions and further consultations will be communicated in the coming days,” he said.

22 cases of B.1.1.529 variant

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced on Thursday that it had detected 22 cases of the variant, dubbed B.1.1.529, in South Africa.

“It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” NICD Acting Executive Director Prof Adrian Puren, said.

“Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date.”

Several countries around the world have already moved to limit flights from South Africa as a precautionary measure.

The UK has banned flights from the country, a decision that drew criticism from International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor.

“Whilst South Africa respects the right of all countries to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect their citizens, the UK’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the UK seems to have been rushed as even the World Health Organization is yet to advise on the next steps,” she said.

Israel, Singapore and Germany have also restricted access to their countries from South Africa. UPDATE: The Presidency announced later on Friday that the NCCC meeting had been brought forward to Saturday.

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