COVID-19 Lambda variant not in South Africa, says health officials

Following rumours, officials swiftly moved to dispel fears that variant has hit SA shores.

Since the pandemic emerged, one of the few constants has been the emergence of new variants of the virus from time to time, with newer ones seemingly more transmissible than prior iterations. The same phenomenon was observed for the alpha and the delta variant — first discovered in the U.K. and India, respectively. These have also gone on to be the dominant variants across many parts of the globe. Another variant that has recently made it's entry onto the scene is known as Lambda which was first detected in Peru eight months ago. The variant, believed to account for more than 80% of new infections across South America and said to be potentially more resistant to neutralising antibodies, has caught the attention of the World Health Organization.

The variant, also called C-37, was reportedly detected in Egypt, and sparked concerns that the variant could have made its way into South Africa. However, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) swiftly moved to allay fears, confirming the variant has not been detected in the country to date. The sentiments were echoed by the acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-​Ngubane, "This new variant is called the Lambda variant has begun to spread in South America and has been detected in 29 countries in total especially in Argentina, Chile. Contrary to the false reports I saw during the week that you might have also read the Lambda variant has not been detected by scientists in the country." She also urged people to avoid spreading fake news.