COVID-19: New variant travels 50-70 times faster – GHS


Read Time: 2 minutes
Director of Health Promotion at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Dacosta Aboagye

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has disclosed the new strain of the COVID-19 pandemic has a higher and faster infection rate as compared to the first strain.

The Director of Health Promotion at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Dacosta Aboagye, has shared that the new strain of the virus is transmitted between fifty to seventy (50-70) times faster.

According to him, Ghana has recorded cases of two different strains of the virus. One from the United Kingdom and another from South Africa.

“Both variants spread very fast and I am thinking they have the same symptoms as the first version of the virus. But, the only difference is that the transmission is very fast. The new variants travel between 50-70 times faster than the normal ones we know of”.

He noted that the different strains were imported into the country via the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) but these individuals were put under isolation.

“We all know that with the reopening of our borders, we required anyone coming into the country to come along with a PCR test from their country of origin, and upon their arrival to Ghana, they undergo the antigen test and asked to self isolate.

“However, we recently changed our policy a bit and insisted that anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 will be housed in our facilities for a second test”.

Dr. Dacosta noted that for the second test, the positive cases were put through genetic sequencing and that was when “we noticed they were infected with the new variants from the UK and South Africa”.

The Director of Health Promotion at the GHS assured the populace the positive cases of the new variants are receiving treatment in isolation and treatment centers under the Ghana Health Service.

Background

Information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally.

In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant called B.1.1.7 has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants.

This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.

In South Africa, another variant called 1.351 has emerged independently of the variant detected in the UK. This variant, originally detected in early October, shares some mutations with the variant detected in the UK. There have been cases caused by this variant outside of South Africa, but it has not been detected in the US.

In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged and was identified in four travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Japan. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death.

However, an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.


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