New virus variant appears to emerge in Nigeria – Africa CDC

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Another new variant of the appears to have emerged in Nigeria, Africa’s top public health official said Thursday, but further is needed.

“It’s a separate lineage from the UK and ” the head of the and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters. He said the Nigeria CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in that country — Africa’s most populous — will be analyzing more .

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

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

The news comes as infections surge again in parts of the African continent

The new variant in is now the predominant one there, Nkengasong said, as confirmed infections in the country approach 1 million. While the variant transmits quickly and viral loads are higher, it is not yet clear whether it leads to a more severe disease, he said.

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

South Africa’s health minister late Wednesday announced an “alarming rate of spread” in that country, with more than 14,000 new cases confirmed in the past day, including more than 400 deaths. The country has more than 950,000 infections and COVID-19 is “unrelenting,” Zwelini Mkhize said in a statement.

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

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