GABORONE, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Health authorities in Botswana announced Thursday that four cases of a new COVID-19 variant now known as B.1.1.529 were reported and recorded on Nov. 22 this year.
The four cases were detected among travelers who tested SARS-COV-2 positive on routine pre-travel testing, the Coordinator of Botswana's Presidential COVID-19 Task Force Kereng Masupu said in a statement.
"The variant tests were carried out as part of the routine genomic surveillance of SARS-COV-2, as prescribed in our COVID-19 response plan," said Masupu, adding that the preliminary report revealed that all of the four persons had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
As part of the continuing investigations into the virus to establish and contain its local transmission, Masupu said contact tracing has revealed close contacts who are currently awaiting their results and the public will be informed regarding the outcome of the exercise.
The initial investigations on the virus have established that the new variant has a high number of mutations, as compared to the locally predominant Delta variant, he said.
"What this means is still unclear and under investigation," said Masupu.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Botswana have dispelled assertions associating the new variant with HIV positive status of the participants. Enditem