BANJUL, 16 January 2021 – The Gambia has detected its first two case of the new COVID-19 variant whose outbreak was first reported in the United Kingdom (UK).
The new strain was detected in two people entering the country, according notes from a briefing by Gambia’s health minister, Ahmadou Samateh, speaking to lawmakers Thursday in the capital, Banjul.
Gambia’s director of health services, Mustapha Bittaye, explained that while the first case was detected in a man who had arrive from the UK, the second case was detected in a Gambian woman.
The World Health Organization has said the UK variant has now been detected in 50 countries around the world.
The Gambia is the first African country to get on that list.
Gambia’s ministry of health says it is tracking the origin of the transmission and tracing in an effort to prevent it from spreading further..
Predictably, neighboring countries – Senegal and Guinea-Bissau have reacted by formulating restrictions and imposing travel bans between citizens of the three countries living along their common borders.
The World Health Organization and infectious disease experts in the UK, USA, Nigeria, South Africa and The Gambia are still trying to understand if the new strain can be stopped by already existing vaccines.
What scientists have confirmed is that the new strain spreads more easily.
The US Centre for Disease Control says it has no evidence that the UK variant or the strains discovered in South Africa and Nigeria, lead to more severe illness or increased risk of death.
The Gambia has recorded 3,893 cases of COVID-19, with 126 deaths and 3,689 full recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.