Another new strain of COVID-19 emerged – this time in Nigeria – which seems to be from a separate lineage to that of the new variants recently found in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The head of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, confirmed on Thursday, 24 December that data on the new COVID-19 variant is still very limited and that additional research is needed.
Nkengasong told reporters in Addis Ababa on Thursday that it is a “separate lineage from the UK and South Africa” and that “it’s still very early” to draw conclusions about the new variant.
Nkengasong, however, explained that the new strain in Nigeria “has the 501 mutation”, referring to the 501.V2 variant which was identified in South Africa on Friday, 18 December 2020.
The new variant was found in samples taken on 3 August and 9 October in Osun state. According to a new research paper seen by Associated Press, researchers “haven’t observed such rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria”.
Based on the limited data available at this point, there isn’t enough evidence to “indicate that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria”, according to the research team.
“However, the relative difference in scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria vs the UK may imply a reduced power to detect such changes”.
On Tuesday 22 December 2020, the Nigeria Health Watch urged people travelling to Nigeria to “remain in self-isolation for seven days on return to Nigeria, even if you test negative on entry”.
The country had the lowest infection rate in Africa, until this week when a surge in new COVID-19 cases was noted. For the first time since the pandemic broke out, Nigeria recorded more than 1 000 cases in a single day.
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