Gambian Health Minister Ahmadou Samateh told lawmakers the strain was detected in two people entering the country — both of whom were asymptomatic — but did not give further details.
The Gambia has registered two cases of a British-identified coronavirus mutation which is likely more infectious, the tiny West African state’s government said on Thursday.
“People coming from 20 hot-spot countries, like the UK, Spain, France and Sweden must face another test because we have detected the new variant,” he said. “This one transmits faster”.
Coronavirus variant B117 likely emerged in southeastern England in September, according to Imperial College London. The World Health Organization says it has already spread to 50 countries worldwide.
This strain is believed to be more easily transmissible because of a mutation of the spike protein, the part of the virus which latches on to human cells.
A former British colony of some two million people, The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa.
Health officials in the poor nation have registered 3,890 coronavirus cases to date, with over 125 fatalities.
Samateh said the government was engaged in “initial talks” to procure a consignment of COVID-19 vaccines, which it expects to acquire in several months.