Africa’s chief public health official said, Thursday, that a new strain of coronavirus has been found in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country.
As Associated Press ReportsJohn Nkengasung, head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters that the new strain had been identified based on two or three gene sequences, prompting officials to an emergency meeting this week.
It’s a separate breed from the United Kingdom and South Africa, said Nkengasong. “Give us some time … It’s still too early.”
According to a research paper obtained by the Associated Press, the new strain was found in samples from two patients collected in August and October in the Nigerian state of Osun. The News Service indicated that the COVID-19 variant is different from the one found in the UK
The research paper said: “We did not notice such a rapid rise in the proportions in Nigeria, and we do not have evidence indicating that the variant P681H contributes to the increase in virus transmission in Nigeria.” “However, the relative difference in the range of genetic surveillance in Nigeria versus the United Kingdom may imply a lower ability to detect such changes.”
Nkengasong said it was still not known whether the new coronavirus strain led to more severe symptoms, although he indicated that it transmitted faster and had a higher viral load.
The strain, found in South Africa and the United Kingdom, has caused many countries around the world to restrict travel. Some lawmakers have expressed support for similar action in the US, as the White House is reported to be considering ordering a negative test for COVID-19 from travelers in the UK.
Africa has seen a new wave of cases, according to the Associated Press, with Nkengasong stating that Nigeria saw a 52 percent increase in the past month while cases in South Africa increased 40 percent.
According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria has so far confirmed nearly 80,000 cases and just over 1,200 coronavirus-related deaths.