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COVID-19 variant: So far, 6 African countries confirmed cases – WHO

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that so far, six African countries have confirmed cases of N501Y.V2 variant, which include Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mayotte and Zambia, while the variant confirmed in 24 countries globally.

In a Press briefing over the 2nd COVID-19 wave in Africa and new variants, the Regional Director Africa, Dr Moeti Tshidi on Thursday, said variant N501Y.V2, first identified in South Africa is cropping up in other African countries.

According to her, “WHO is tracking the emergence of different COVID-19 variants, updating guidance and strategies as new information becomes available. The variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom, has also made its way to Africa, confirmed cases in the Gambia.

“Evidence suggests that these variants are more transmissible, and emerging evidence indicates the UK variant may cause more severe illness. Encouragingly, this week, at least two manufacturers have said their vaccines are effective against both variants”, she said.

She added that WHO are working very hard with countries to prepare for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. “We encourage all countries to do their best to be ready to roll these vaccines out to communities.

“We particularly encourage the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to prepare for the vaccine, to put in place the preventive measures to protect their population, and to share data on the COVID-19 situation”, she said.

She warned that as Africa is at a crossroads. “All Africans must double-down on the prevention measures that work so well such as physical distancing, frequent hand hygiene, and wearing masks”, she said.

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