A Nigerian scientist has spent the holiday season in his laboratory doing genetic sequencing to learn more about the country’s COVID-19 variant, as cases increase in the country. Virologist Sunday Omilabu says the information he gathers about the variant will help battle the spread of the disease in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 196 million people. With COVID-19 variants emerging in Nigeria and South Africa, the World Health Organization said Africa needs to do more genetic sequencing, such as what Omilabu is doing. “The emergence of new COVID-19 variants is common. However, those with a higher speed of transmission or potentially increased pathogenicity are very concerning. Crucial investigations are under way to comprehensively understand the behaviour of the new mutant virus and steer response accordingly,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. The new variants have emerged as COVID-19 infections are rising in the 47 African countries, nearly reaching the peak the continent saw in July, she said. In the past 28 days, 10 countries – Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda – have reported the highest number of new cases, accounting for 90 percent of all infections in Africa, she said.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA