By NewsDesk  @bactiman63 

The Finland National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is recommending to the public to avoid all travel to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatin (Swaziland) due to the new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In addition, THL recommends that everyone who has stayed in the above-mentioned countries during the last two weeks and returned to Finland

  • apply for a coronavirus test as soon as they arrive in the country, regardless of whether they have received a full series of COVID-19 vaccinations or have symptoms suggestive of a COVID-19.
  • avoid social contact and apply for a coronavirus test if they show even mild symptoms suggestive of a coronavirus infection after returning to the country. If you experience symptoms, it is advisable to apply for a new test, even if you have already taken the test when you entered.

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The recommendations are due to a new variant of coronavirus detected in South Africa and Botswana B.1.1.529. The variant has been found to have several changes in the coronavirus spike protein, which is why it is suspected to spread more efficiently than the other variants.

So far, there are no detections of the new virus variant in Finland.

“It is not yet known whether the new variant will be able to circumvent the immune protection provided by coronavirus vaccines. The recommendation to avoid traveling to southern African countries and to take a coronavirus test is a precautionary measure until we get more information about the strain, ”says Jari Jalava, a leading expert at THL.

“The new variant may be related to the rising number of cases in South Africa. Further research is currently being conducted in South Africa and we will report the results as soon as they are available. The studies will also assess whether the variant is able to circumvent the protection provided by the vaccines, ”says Carita Savolainen-Kopra, a leading expert at THL.

“Based on the currently limited data, it is difficult to assess the potential spread of the new variant worldwide,” says Savolainen-Kopra.