'Concerning' new Covid variant isn't in NZ - Robertson

Source: 1News

Grant Robertson says the new Covid-19 variant that’s been detected in South Africa, and is concerning scientists there, hasn’t arrived into New Zealand.

It was revealed on Friday that the new variant, identified as B.1.1.529, had been found and reported to the World Health Organization.

Tulio de Oliveira, from the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa, told the Associated Press that the "very high number of mutations is a concern”, and that they see that the variant is “potentially spreading very fast”.

During Friday's 1pm Covid-19 press conference, Robertson, the Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed the variant had not been detected in New Zealand.

A syringe is drawn up with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

“The first thing to make clear is that we’ve checked with the ESR and there is no variant of that nature that has come into New Zealand,” he said.

“The advice we’ve had at the moment is that it is a good example of why we need to be cautious, there’s no need at this point to be alarmed about it.”

Following the finding, the UK on Friday announced it would be bringing in an southern Africa travel ban, with six countries added to its red list.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Twitter more data was needed, but they were “taking precautions now”.

Robertson said there had not yet been any advice on a travel ban in New Zealand.

“But it quite clearly is evident, that this pandemic is not over.

“New Zealand’s response needs to be careful and methodical and cautious while this is happening."