BRAZZAVILLE, 23 January 2021 – Kenya, The Gambia and Zambia have all recorded cases of the South African variant of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed Saturday.
The variant is believed to be already spreading in more countries than these three, WHO Africa Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, told reporters.
“It may also be that the new strain is circulating in different African countries but has not been identified,” Dr. Moeti said.
He added: “We are now working with scientists in different laboratories with the capacity to determine the complete DNA of the virus to boost their surveillance”.
In Kenya, the new variant was detected in two South African passengers who had traelled to Kenya a month ago, according to Dr. Patrick Amoth, Kenya’s Health Director General.
The two men have already gone back to South Africa, Dr. Amoth was quoted as saying.
The Gambia said its first two cases were from a traveler who had come in from the United Kingdom and a Gambian woman who had been in close contact with the infected traveler.
The current vaccines being used may not be effective against this new strain, a team of researhcers from thre South African universities workin with the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases have warned.