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    Russia to send virus specialists to SA

    President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will dispatch virus specialists to South Africa to establish a Covid lab after the discovery of the new variant omicron.

    A plane left from Volgograd on Saturday. However, its progress appeared to have stalled in Rwanda as of late yesterday afternoon.

    It was expected to land in Cape Town yesterday. Russia’s leader made the pledge during a telephone call with his counterpart from South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, who thanked Russia for its cooperation, the Kremlin said in a statement.

    “An agreement was reached to send a group of Russian virologists, epidemiologists, researchers and doctors, as well as a sanitary-epidemiological laboratory and other medical equipment to South Africa in the very near future,” it read.

    The detection of the first omicron cases coincided with surges in infection numbers across the world, and the variant added fuel to concerns about a global Covid resurgence.

    Russia, at the beginning of the pandemic, was accused of playing politics with virus aid, and critics said its shipments of military doctors and medical equipment to Italy and Serbia was Russia to send virus specialists to SA meant to curry favour in Europe.

    Moscow last year sent a shipment of ventilators to the US un- der the administration of Donald Trump but the equipment was found to be faulty and was never put to use. Russia’s health ministry said last week it had registered its first two cases of the new variant from people returning from South Africa. –

    © 2021, Sithembile Mkhwanazi. All rights reserved.

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