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New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called for a meeting of medical and scientific experts Monday in light of “the threat from (the) new Covid variant from African countries”.These experts will make a presentation to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), he said, to suggest steps to protect the national capital from the B.1.1.529 strain of the coronavirus.”In view of the threat from (the) new COVID-19 variant from African countries, we have requested experts to make a presentation to DDMA on Monday, and suggest what steps we should take. We will take all steps necessary to protect you and your family,” the Chief Minister tweeted.In view of the threat from new COVID variant from African countries, we have requested experts to make a presentation to DDMA on Mon and suggest what steps we shud take. We will take all steps necessary to protect u and ur family— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 26, 2021A new variant of the novel coronavirus – listed as B.1.1.529 – was identified first in South Africa and Botswana earlier this week, and has since already spread as far afield as Hong Kong.The variant has triggered red-flags over an alarmingly high number of mutations that might make it more resistant to current vaccines, increase transmissibility and lead to more severe symptoms.On Thursday India called for rigorous screening of passengers from these countries.”This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” a letter from the Union Health Ministry to all states and UTs read.The new variant has 50 mutations, over 30 of which are on the spike protein and 10 of which are on the receptor binding domain. Researchers are still trying to confirm what this means for the virus’ vaccine evasion and transmission capabilities, but medical experts have sounded alerts.Delhi was among the most badly affected cities in the country during the peak of the second Covid wave, when hospital beds were hard to find and patients died because of a lack of oxygen.The numbers have slowed since, with the national capital recording just 30 new cases yesterday and the case positivity rate dropping to a happy 0.5 per cent.A new wave of infections – particularly if they were to be triggered by a more vaccine-resistant strain – will be unwelcome in the city, where tens of thousands are still struggling to recover, financially, physically and mentally, from the earlier waves.With input from PTI



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