Third mutant coronavirus strain found sparking fears of fresh pandemic

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Another mutant strain of coronavirus has been found, this time in Nigeria, as officials begged for time to understand the disease.

Public health officials are warning that another strain has been discovered, different to ones ripping through the UK and South Africa.

“It’s a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa,” the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said.

He said the Nigeria CDC and the ACDCP will analyse more samples urgently to develop a greater understanding.

“Give us some time. It’s still very early,” he said.

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.

  • Mutant Covid strain's full impact won't be known for 'several weeks'

The Nigeria CDC and the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria will study more samples, Nkengasong said.

"Give us some time … it's still very early", he said, in response to questions about the variant.

Nigeria'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.

"Over recent weeks, we've had a huge increase in number of samples to (the Nigerian CDC's) reference lab," the Nigeria CDC's director general Chikwe Ihekweazu tweeted on Thursday.

  • Coronavirus

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