We already know his English cousin. Now, a first case of contamination with the variant of the coronavirus, present in South Africa, has been detected in France, as announced by health authorities on Thursday. Its name: 501.V2. According to the Directorate General of Health, it is a man living in the Haut-#Rhin, near the border with Switzerland, who tested positive for this new variant, after showing symptoms on his return. from South Africa.
The verdict fell after a PCR sample in Switzerland, confirmed by the sequencing of this new form. The person, now cured, “isolated himself at his home as soon as the symptoms appeared” and “no risky contact was identified”, assured the ministry. But given the already identified circulation of the English variant, Public Health France and the national reference centers have just set up a system for detecting and monitoring possible cases in the territory.
As is already the case for British travelers, the labs must therefore transmit to the reference centers any positive PCR test of a person who has stayed in South Africa or who has been in close contact with one of them, to sequence it.
What exactly do we know about this mutant virus? “#It is a real variant because many strains have been identified in South Africa where it has spread,” says Christine Rouzioux, professor of virology and member of the Academy of Medicine. For two weeks, the country, where the number of contaminations is very high, has been alerting to this mutant virus. South Africa has even become the first state on the continent to exceed one million contaminations and has so far recorded nearly 27,000 deaths.
“We note more mutations than for the English variant”, continues the virologist. Is it more dangerous, more contagious? “#For the moment, we do not know if it gives more serious forms. “On December 25, the South African Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, wanted to be reassuring:” There is no evidence showing that the South African strain is more pathogenic than the British strain “. An answer to his British counterpart who considered, on the contrary, this new form of the virus “highly worrying”.
More contagious forms
A first case of the variant identified in the United Kingdom in December had been confirmed in France on December 25, in Tours (Indre-et-#Loire), on a Frenchman who arrived from London a few days earlier.
For the two variants, which could be more transmissible, the health authorities “are mobilized to identify as early as possible each infected patient to isolate them, isolate their contact persons and test them, and thus prevent the spread of SARS-#CoV variants- 2 on the national territory ”, assured the ministry.
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The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) this week warned of a “high” risk that these variants are a source of additional pressure on health systems and a cause of higher mortality due to their greater contagiousness.