As the British, South African and Brazilian variants continue to spread around the world, Tunisian scientists are investigating whether a mutation has occurred and there is a new local variant of COVID-19 in the country after detecting two infections that seem to follow a different pattern, as reported by the local press. “This new strain was detected in the second week of February and is unique in Tunisia, but it shows some similarities to British and South African strains”, The director of the National Pasteur Institute, the most prestigious in the North African country, Hashemi al Wazir, explained to the ANSA agency.
Likewise, the expert assures that the two cases under investigation were found by coincidence after numerous examinations in an asymptomatic young man and in an elderly man who suffered a serious picture of the disease and died. However, he warned that it is still not possible to link the death of the old man, admitted to the Monji Slim hospital in La Marsa and who initially tested negative, with the possible new variant. In addition, he added that analyzes carried out to date have not shown a specific risk for this variant, neither in terms of symptoms nor speed of spread.
For his part, the president of the Health Committee of the Tunisian Parliament, Sohail Alouni, admitted that national laboratories are not trained at this time to detect new variants, but that the necessary actions have already begun to equip itself with more modern equipment.
Epidemiological situation in Tunisia
According to data from the Tunisian Ministry of Health, more than 227,000 people have been infected in the country and more than 7,500 have died due to diseases associated with the virus, most of them after it opened the borders on June 27, when it reported just 1,500 cases and fifty deaths.