The Nigeria Center for Disease Control and the African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemers University, Ede, have detected an additional six B.1.1.7 variants in the country.
Dr Chikwe, Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja, at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, National briefing.
“On January, 30, our partners at ACEGID detected the B.1.1.7 variant in six additional samples – five from Osun and one from Kwara State. This is the variant of concern that first emerged in the UK.
“The five in Osun is most likely related to the fact that this is where ACEGID is and where they get a lot of samples from. In total, we have detected the B.1.1.7 variant in seven cases within Nigeria.
“This could imply community transmission of this variant of concern. We are currently scaling up on genomic surveillance, working very closely with ACEGID.
“Specifically, we have begun sequencing positive samples among travelers from the UK and South Africa, who test positive on the seventh day of testing.
“We are developing a protocol to sequence more samples from across states at ACEGID and our sister-agency, NIMR. This is in addition to our capacity at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory,” he explained.
The NCDC boss said that finally there was really no magic bullet with the variants of concern. Currently, the message was still the same.
“Please avoid large gatherings, wash your hands regularly, wear a face mask properly and ensure physical distancing,” he advised.
Ihekweazu noted that the agent has continued to review the global and national situation with regards to the variants of concern, and how it affects the nation’s response.
“We are all aware that with the increasing transmission, the virus is adapting to the human population leading to what is known as variants of concern.
“In most countries, it is still not clear if the variants of concern are leading to increased transmission, or if the increase in cases is as a result of poor adherence to public health and social measures.
“An additional layer of response required to really understand the variants of concern is with genetic sequencing and genomic surveillance.
“We have begun this at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory with our partners at ACEGID at Redeemers University, Ede,” he explained.