In the wake of the new COVID-19 variant reported lately in South Africa, the Ministry of Health and Population has urged people to remain cautious and follow the health protocols.

The variant classified as B 1.1.529 could spread to Nepal as well. So people visiting Nepal through South Africa should compulsorily stay in a week-long quarantine facility, said the ministry.

Nepal is at risk when a virus variant is reported anywhere across the globe, said Joint Secretary at the ministry Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari. So caution is necessary, he added. The World Health Organisation has classified the variant as 'of concern'.

"Following this, we have stepped up vigil on people visiting Nepal through South Africa," he said.

There is no need to worry as the variant has not been reported in Nepal. But caution is necessary, he said. "At present, the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing.

But the risks still persist. So there is a need to follow health protocols."

A version of this article appears in the print on November 28, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.