TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has placed six countries in Southern Africa on its high-risk list due to the appearance of a new, heavily mutated variant of COVID that has surfaced in South Africa.
During a press conference on Friday (Nov. 26), Health minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that due to a rise in the COVID variant B.1.1.529 in Southern Africa, six countries in the region will be deemed high-risk starting Nov. 29. Chen said that visitors from the listed countries must undergo quarantine in a quarantine center, and they will not be eligible for the shortened hotel quarantine during the Lunar New Year.
The B.1.1.529 variant, which was first detected in Botswana, has 32 mutations in the spike protein. Thus far, 77 cases have been confirmed in South Africa's Gauteng Province, four in Botswana, and one in Hong Kong, from a traveler who arrived from South Africa, reported the BBC.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) has been assigning a Greek letter to each new COVID variant and because the next letter available is Nu, it is expected the new strain will be named Nu.
Chen emphasized that travelers from these high-risk countries will not be eligible for the '10 plus 4" and "7 plus 7" shortened hotel quarantine schemes during the Lunar New Year. If an aircrew member has traveled to one of these six countries, they must undergo 14 full days of quarantine and cooperate with testing and carefully implement self-health monitoring.