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Another new variant of the coronavirus seems to have arisen in NigeriaAfrica’s top public health official said on Thursday, but added that more research is needed.

The discovery could add to a new alarm in the pandemic after similar variants were announced in Britain and South Africa, prompting the swift return of international travel restrictions and other measures just as the world enters a major holiday season. .

“It is a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa,” African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director John Nkengasong told reporters. He said the Nigerian CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in that country: Africa’s more populated – will analyze more samples.

“Give us some time … it’s still very early,” he said.

Lagos, Nigeria
FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask to protect herself against the coronavirus crosses the main road in Lagos, Nigeria, on September 28, 2020. (AP)

The alert about the apparent new variant was based on two or three genetic sequences, he said, but that and the alert from South Africa late last week were enough to spark an emergency meeting of the Africa CDC this week.

The variant was found in two patient samples collected on August 3 and October 9 in Nigeria’s Osun state, according to a working research document seen by The Associated Press.

Unlike the variant seen in the UK, “we have not seen such a rapid increase in lineage in Nigeria and we have no evidence that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria. However, the relative difference en The scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria versus the UK may imply reduced power to detect such changes, “says the paper.

The news comes as infections are on the rise again in parts of the African continent.

People affected by the coronavirus economic downturn line up for food packages in Pretoria, South Africa, in July this year. The increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country constituted more than half of the total of the African continent. (AP / AAP)

The new variant in South Africa is now predominant there, Nkengasong said, as confirmed infections in the country approach a million. While the variant spreads quickly and viral loads are higher, it is not yet clear whether it leads to more serious illness, he said.

“We believe that this mutation will not have an effect” on the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines on the continent, he said of the South African variant.

South Africa’s health minister announced on Wednesday night an “alarming rate of spread” in that country, with more than 14,000 new cases confirmed last day, including more than 400 deaths. It was the largest increase in cases in a single day.

The country has more than 950,000 infections and COVID-19 is “relentless,” said Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize.

The African continent now has more than 2.5 million confirmed cases, or 3.3% of global cases. Infections across the continent have risen 10.9 percent in the past four weeks, Nkengasong said, including a 52 percent increase in Nigeria and 40 percent in South Africa.

For the first time since the first virus case was confirmed in sub-Saharan Africa in February, Nigeria is in the spotlight during this pandemic as infections rise.

“In recent weeks, we have had a large increase in the number of samples for the reference laboratory (CDC Nigeria),” CDC Director General Chikwe Ihekweazu tweeted on Thursday. “This has caused an unusual delay in testing, but we are working round the clock,” and many colleagues cut their vacation short and go back to work.

Nigeria now has more than 80,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

– Reported with Associated Press

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