The discovery could add to new alarm in the pandemic after similar variants were announced in Britain and South Africa. Photograph:( AFP )
It is different from the ones found recently in the UK and South Africa and still needs to be analysed whether the mutant virus is causing a rapid rise of Covid-19 in the African nation.
In what could be a new alarm to the Covid-19 pandemic globally, another variant of coronavirus has emerged in Africa’s most populous country, after distinct mutants of the virus have been reported from the UK and South Africa over the last few days.
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The discovery could add to new alarm in the pandemic after similar variants were announced in Britain and South Africa, leading to the swift return of international travel restrictions and other measures just as the world enters a major holiday season.
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"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 one we are seeing in Nigeria, and this is based on very limited data yet, has the 501 mutation," Nkengasong added, referring to the variant termed 501.V2 identified in South Africa and announced by public health officials there on December 18.
The Nigeria CDC and the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria will study more samples, Nkengasong said.
The country's principal COVID-19 investigator has just released publicly the genomic sequences of the new variant, he added.
Nigeria's CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nkengasong's remarks.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with more than 200 million people, has seen fewer coronavirus cases than many others on the continent.
Total cases crept past 80,000 on Wednesday. Daily recorded cases exceeded 1,000 for the first time this month.
(With inputs from agencies)