According to Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, the coronavirus variant (501Y.V2) - detected in SA in mid-December - is about 50% more transmissible than older lineages but there is no evidence that it leads to more severe disease.

Concerns about the contagious nature of 501Y.V2 and its potential to be less susceptible to vaccines have prompted a growing list of countries to limit travel to and from SA and introduce new testing and quarantine protocols.

Koleka Mlisana, head of research and quality assurance at the National Health Laboratory Service, said there was no evidence of an increased risk of reinfection with the new variant.

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