Below is the full text of the release which reads:
The Ministry of Health hereby informs the general public that, the new variant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus first detected in the United Kingdom has been identified during sequencing in positive specimens at the National Public Health Laboratory Services (NPHLS). The public may note that, this new strain of the virus has been found in other countries namely, South Africa and Brazil, and may continue to be found in any other country.
In The Gambia, the discovery of this variant does not until now change our current public health strategies and recommendations. The fact that the variant strain is thought to be more contagious, than the viral strains currently in wide circulation calls for reinforcing the importance of wearing a facemask, social distancing outside homes and quarantining of people exposed to positive cases.
It may be noted that, whist it has been found difficult to know whether one has new strain, preliminary studies have indicated that, the COVID 19 Vaccines currently developed and used in some countries are effective against the variant strain. It is therefore important to protect ourselves and others by adhering to the measures instituted by Health officials.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Medical Research Council and London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in The Gambia will continue to collect and isolate for the common COVID 19, the new variant and any other form of strain by strict observance of standard procedures. The two designated and accredited Laboratories in The Gambia have been screening COVID 19 virus using an effective sequencing.
The Ministry of Health assures the general public that, COVID 19 tests conducted in The Gambia by the National Public Health Laboratory and the Medical Research Council and London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in The Gambia are effective and safe, thus urges all to utilise these two facilities for testing and Certification of COVID 19 samples. The public is further encouraged to call the Ministry of Health Toll-Free Number 1025 for other related information.
In conclusion, the Ministry of Health is soliciting the continuous support and cooperation of the general public in its efforts to contain COVID-19 and also in addressing all health care needs of the population.