from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA – THE World Health Organization (WHO) has urged greater surveillance as new variants of the coronavirus (COVID-19) emerge in the African continent.
The new variants have emerged as COVID-19 infections are on the rise in the 47 countries in the WHO African region, nearly reaching the peak seen in July.
WHO recommended countries to boost genomic surveillance and analysis through the African genome sequencing laboratory network to detect any new mutations and strengthen the efforts to curb the pandemic.
The new variants seem to have higher transmissibility.
“The emergence of new COVID-19 variants is common,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa.
“However, those with higher speed of transmission or potentially increased pathogenicity are very concerning. Crucial investigations are underway to comprehensively understand the behaviour of the new mutant virus and steer response accordingly.”
South Africa recently detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, which appears to transmit more easily and is likely linked to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 infections in the country.
Further analysis is underway to determine the full epidemiological significance of this mutation.
South Africa has the continent’s worst outbreak and has exceeded 1 million cases.
Nigeria is also carrying out more investigations on a variant identified in samples collected in August and October.
Nigeria is the most populous country in the continent, with over 106 million people.
Africa has confirmed over 2,743 million cases and no less than 64 867 deaths as of December 30.
– CAJ News