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UPDATE 1-Another new coronavirus variant found in Nigeria, says Africa CDC

CoronavirusDec 24, 2020 15:36
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(Adds details, quotes on new South Africa strain)
NAIROBI, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Another new variant of the novel
coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria, the head of
Africa's disease control body said on Thursday, cautioning more
investigation was needed.
The news comes after Britain and South Africa 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 South African
lineages," John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told an online news
conference from Addis Ababa.
The detection of the new variants in Nigeria and South
Africa prompted an emergency meeting of the Africa CDC this
week, Nkengasong said.
The news comes as cases are surging in both Nigeria and
South Africa. In the past week, Nigeria reported a 52% increase
in cases and South Africa a 40% increase, Nkengasong said.
He said there was no evidence the new variant was
contributing to increased transmission in Nigeria, but cautioned
the country does less genomic surveillance than Britain.
The Nigeria CDC and the African Centre of Excellence for
Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria will study more
samples, Nkengasong said.
"Give us some time ... it's still very early", he said, in
response to questions about the variant.
Nigeria's principal COVID-19 investigator has just released
publicly the genomic sequences of the new variant, he added.
Nigeria's CDC did not immediately respond to a request for
comment on Nkengasong's remarks.
"Over recent weeks, we've had a huge increase in number of
samples to (the Nigerian CDC's) reference lab," the Nigeria
CDC's director general Chikwe Ihekweazu tweeted on Thursday.
"This has led to an unusual delay with testing, but we're
working round the clock."
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.
Africa has reported more than 2.5 million coronavirus cases,
making up 3.3% of global cases, according to the Africa CDC.
The new, faster-spreading variant that South Africa detected
on Dec. 18 is now the predominant one there, Nkengasong said,
although - as with the new variant in Britain - there is no
evidence that it leads to a more severe disease.
The rate of coronavirus infections in South Africa will soon
surpass the peak hit in the first wave earlier in the year, its
health ministry said on Wednesday. Nkengasong said the Africa CDC did not believe the mutation
in South Africa will affect deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines
on the continent.

UPDATE 1-Another new coronavirus variant found in Nigeria, says Africa CDC
 

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