Scientists at the University of Ghana have obtained critical information about the virus responsible for the global Covid-19 pandemic that will enable tracing of community infections in people that did not come into contact with confirmed cases.

The scientists, who work at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) of the University analysed samples from selected cases to gain a comprehensive understanding of the variations of the virus that are present in Ghana.

“The successful establishment of this sequencing capability at University of Ghana is a significant milestone in Ghana‘s response to the pandemic, as it will strengthen surveillance for tracking mutations of the virus and aid in the tracing of the sources of community infections in people with no known contact with confirmed cases,” Prof. Abraham Anang, Director of NMIMR is quoted in a press release issued by the University.

Nine samples were analysed from travellers who arrived in Ghana from the UK, Norway, Hungary, India and United States.

“The data tells us that, while there were some differences between the strains from the various countries, all the 15 genomes generally resembled (with >92% similarity) the reference strain that was isolated in the Wuhan Province of China, where the outbreak began,” Prof. Gordon Awandare, Director of WACCBIP is quoted in a press release.

“This confirms that we are dealing with the same pathogen, and that it has not yet changed its genetic make-up significantly. It is natural that pathogens will evolve as they encounter different environmental challenges, so we will need to continue monitoring to keep track with these changes and determine how they impact on the efficacy of potential drugs or vaccines that are being developed”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Health Service has confirmed 30 more Covid-19 cases in the country.

Of the 408 cases, 205 were reported from routine surveillance, 88 from enhanced surveillance activities and 115 from travellers under mandatory quarantine in both Accra and Tamale.

The number of deaths from the virus has also risen from six to eight.

Read the full release from the University of Ghana below.