Testing for the coronavirus, which now has three known variants worldwide, in Durban, SA. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Testing for the coronavirus, which now has three known variants worldwide, in Durban, SA. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Nairobi — Another new variant of the coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of Africa’s disease control body said on Thursday, cautioning that more investigation is needed.

The news comes after Britain and SA both reported new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that appear to be more contagious, leading to new travel restrictions and turmoil in markets.

“It’s a separate lineage from the UK and the SA lineages,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told an online news conference from Addis Ababa.

“The one we are seeing in Nigeria, and this is based on very limited data, has the 501 mutation,” Nkengasong added, referring to the variant termed 501.V2 identified in SA and announced by the health minister on December 18.

The Nigeria CDC and the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria will study more samples, Nkengasong said.

The country’s principal Covid-19 investigator has just released the genomic sequences of the new variant publicly , he added.

Nigeria’s CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nkengasong’s remarks.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 200-million people, has seen fewer coronavirus cases than many others on the continent. Total cases crept past 80,000 on Wednesday. Daily recorded cases exceeded 1,000 for the first time this month. 

Reuters

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