Chinese researchers have discovered that there are two strains of the coronavirus causing Covid-19.
According to the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the strains are identified as L and S.
Speaking during the weekly Covid-19 joint media briefing, Dr. Moeti said the L strain has been found to be the most virulent and the one causing high mortality rates in most countries that have reported more deaths. She noted that further research is being conducted on the strains.
Dr Moeti said gene sequencing is still going on and a number of laboratories are carrying out the research in Africa adding that the findings in Africa have been found to be similar to those of the rest of the world.
“There are a number of laboratories in Africa that are carrying out research and analysis on coronavirus genome sequencing and their findings are similar to those that have been found internationally,” she said and added, “and really we have not identified within Africa the strains of the virus that may make a difference in terms of either the virulence or the infectivity of the virus.”
The WHO Regional Director for Africa noted that the success rate in Uganda and Rwanda is based on the capacities and capabilities put in place by the two countries.
She said that an assessment by WHO has shown that the systems put in place as part of preparedness following the outbreak of Ebola in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has given Rwanda and Uganda a head-start in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Moeti said on the African continent it took 36 days to reach a thousand reported cases, but took 62 days to jump to 100,000 recorded cases of coronavirus, “we are seeing some rapid increases, “reported cases have tripled in five countries and doubled in ten countries.”
She appealed to African countries that as they ease the lockdowns and other social measures in the coming days, “it is important that strong public health measures are in place and that communities are empowered enough to take preventive measures.”
Dr. Moeti called on African countries not to let their guard down and instead build on the successes so far in containing the spread of COVID-19.
“We are not letting our guard down and we cannot be complacent and must be ready for a long fight against COVID-19.
South Africa Health Minister Dr Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize urged African said that as South Africa prepares to open schools, mines and factories, “We now need to say to everyone whether they remain closed or open, it is going to depend on whether they remain focused on the restrictions put in place, it is going to be a big challenge but we cannot hold the country in a lockdown forever.”