The first case of highly infectious Coronavirus variant recorded in sub-Saharan Africa has been identified in the West African nation of Gambia.
Gambia’s Health Minister Ahmadou Samateh said the strain was detected in two people entering the country, both of whom were asymptomatic.
“People coming from 20 hot-spot countries, like the UK, Spain, France and Sweden must face another test because we have detected the new variant. This one transmits faster,” Gambia’s Health Minister Ahmadou Samateh said.
Director of Health Services Mustapha Bittaye confirmed that one of the patients was a 34-year-old Gambian man who had travelled from Britain. The other was an 82-year-old Gambian woman.
The highly infectious Covid-19 variant was first reported in the UK. Coronavirus variant B117 emerged in southeastern England in September, according to Imperial College London.
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World Health Organization (WHO) had days earlier said that the Coronavirus mutation first found in UK had spread to 50 other countries, while a similar South African-identified strain has now been found in 20 countries.
The two new variants of Coronavirus seem to make the deadly virus even more easily transmitted.
While researchers worried at first that the UK variant might have changed enough to evade the protection offered by Coronavirus vaccines, the evidence suggests it has not.
But a second new variant first seen in South Africa may carry changes that would help the virus at least partly escape the immunity provided by some of the current vaccines.