Nigeria’s health authorities have confirmed 542 new coronavirus cases and 23 fatalities.

A total of 152,616 cases have so far been registered in the country, including 129,300 recoveries and 1,862, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in its latest update on late Monday.

It said the country is scaling up its sequencing capacity to understand the ongoing transmission of the virus and the impact of vaccines.

The NCDC said about 100 test samples will be sent to the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) for sequencing every week.

This came amid reports indicating that an unknown variant – dubbed B.1.525 – of the COVID-19 that is different from the UK variant was discovered in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state.

“So far, this [new variant] has been detected among cases in five states in Nigeria. B.1.525 cases have also been reported in other countries in travellers from Nigeria,” the NCDC said.

According to the disease control agency, researchers and scientists are conducting studies in order to understand whether if the new variant has any impact on immunity, diagnostic severity, transmissibility, and already approved vaccines.

The new variant was first detected in a sample collected on Nov.23 from a patient in Lagos State.