A 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.