The Gambia has registered nine cases of the new Covid variant first detected in India.
The World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday that the Indian variant is recorded in 53 territories around the world.
The Gambian Ministry of Health said its surveillance system detected two travellers who arrived in the country on 18th April 2021 but tested negative after the rapid diagnostic test at the airport.
However, the ministry said the two fell ill after two weeks and reported to a health facility for testing and were found to be positive.
“Their samples were sequenced and the results were found to be the new variant identified in India. Currently seven of their family members also tested positive and are in isolation receiving treatment,” the health ministry announced.
The new Covid variant, known as B.1.617, has infected millions of people and killed thousands, mainly in India, UK and the Americas.
With the discovery of the new variant, the Ministry of Health has toughened protocols on quarantine and testing for arrivals.
“Henceforth, all travellers from India must arrive in The Gambia with a negative PCR test valid for 72 hours. All such travellers will be quarantined for a maximum of 72 hours at their own cost to enable sample collection and PCR testing. The testing regime at the airport for travellers coming from all hotspot countries will be intensified. Those with positive rapid diagnostic test will be quarantined for a maximum of 72 hours at their own cost and they will further undergo PCR testing. It is important to note that the PCR testing for arriving travellers is free of charge,” it said.
The Gambia has recorded nearly 6,000 cases of the novel coronavirus since March 2020 with 178 deaths. At least 26,000 people have received their first jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine while 300 have been fully vaccinated as of May 22.