First case of new coronavirus variant detected in Belgium

The virologist Marc Van Ranst (photo, above) has confirmed that a first case of a new variant of coronavirus has been detected here in Belgium. The variant that was first identified by scientists in South Africa is particularly prevalent among younger people in the country’s Gauteng region that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria. It has since been identified in several other Southern African countries and even as far away as Hong Kong. 

A number of European countries including Belgium, the UK, The Netherlands and Germany have suspended flights to and from Southern Africa in an effort to prevent the strain from taking hold here in Europe. Anyone returning to Belgium from South Africa or other countries in the region such as Botswana must now quarantine for ten days.

Little is yet known about the strain, but there are fears that it could be even more infectious than the delta variant of coronavirus and that it may in part at least be resistant to the coronavirus vaccines used in inoculation programmes so far. However, further research into the variant will be needed before scientists can say this for sure.

Professor Van Ranst told VRT News that a first case of someone in Belgium being infected with the new variant has been confirmed. The person that is infected with the new variant tested positive for coronavirus on Monday 22 November. The patient is a person in their 30s that had returned from a holiday in Egypt.

The Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) says that the person concerned had not been immunised and had not previously been infected with coronavirus. So far, the person has developed only mild symptoms. 

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