Ghana is conducting tests to determine if a new strain or variant, of coronavirus, currently spreading across the United Kingdom has arrived in the country, says Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, a Director in charge of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service.
This comes amid several reports that Nigeria and South Africa recorded cases of the virus.
“We have adopted the strategy of testing people before they enter the country. We have made the PCR testing mandatory. We also do the antigen tests. When we get the positives, we pass them on to Noguchi to do the sequencing, they did it two months ago and did not identify any new virus strain”, said Dr Asiedu-Bekoe in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM.
The latest discovery has sparked widespread fear after a similar strain was announced in other countries including the UK where many Ghanaians are domiciled.
“However, per what we have gathered so far, there is no evidence of such in the country,” Dr Bekoe indicated adding that Ghana’s preventive set-up will ensure that such situations will be brought under control.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the new variant was identified in southeastern England as early as September and had been detected as far away as Australia.
Experts said one or two mutations to the original coronavirus pop up every month or so, but this new variant has a whopping 17 mutations.
Already, several European countries have or are considering banning travel from the UK to prevent the spread of a more infectious variant of coronavirus.
Both the Netherlands and Belgium have suspended flights. Trains to Belgium have also been banned.
Italy’s foreign minister has indicated his government plans to ban flights. France and Germany are reportedly planning similar action.
The new variant has spread fast in London and south-East England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday introduced a new tier-four level of restrictions, scrapping a planned relaxation of rules over the Christmas period for millions of people.
Top health officials said that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.