NMA, virologists warn Nigerians, experts probe COVID-19 Delta variant
THE Nigerian Medical Association and experts, including a Professor of Virology and Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, Oyewale Tomori, have warned Nigerians against the deadly Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The experts urged Nigerians to embrace public health measures put in place by health officials.
The African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s university, Ede, Osun State, had on Friday identified a new variant of the coronavirus.
The development came after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, in a statement on Thursday, announced that it had identified the deadly Indian strain (Delta variant) of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
The Head of Communication Division, NCDC, Dr Yahya Disu, in the statement, explained that the variant had been linked to a surge in cases in countries where “it is the dominant strain in circulation.”
He further explained that the NCDC was working alongside the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases and other laboratories to carry out genomic sequencing and identify new variants.
However, the Director of ACEGID, Prof Christian Happi, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday disclosed that the centre had identified a new variant that emerged from Nigeria.
He said, “Last year, we identified the united Kingdom variant and now we have identified a new variant that emerged from Nigeria. We tagged it the Eta Variant B1525.
“We also have other variants under investigations; we have the B1131A. These are variants that have emerged from Nigeria.
“We do not know how deadly they are going to be but we are monitoring and investigating thoroughly so we can hand over our findings to the NCDC.
“As for the Delta variant (Indian strain), we have seen it all over the world…the havoc it has wrecked all over the world. With the situation of vaccines, all we can advise now is non-pharmaceutical means of curbing the virus.”
Also in another interview, virologist Tomori urged Nigerians to embrace public health measures put in place by health officials.
He said, “Nigerians have to ensure that this time round, they respect social distancing, wear their masks and wash their hands regularly.
“There are no vaccines yet. If these measures are not practised, things might get worse. We have seen what happened in India and we won’t want a repeat of that.”
Also, Professor of Virology at the university of Ibadan, David Olaleye, said it was sad Nigeria had finally joined the league of nations with the deadly Indian strain.
“Given the low percentage of vaccination in Nigeria and Africa, our best shot before vaccines start rolling in will be nonpharmaceutical means such as washing of hands, social distancing, and most importantly, wearing of face masks,” he said. “The time has come also for the government to fully enforce this,” he added.
Similarly, the General Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Phillips Ekpe, told Sunday PUNCH, “We would want the government to check sequences so they can identify new variants and also intensify research on these new variants so we can know how deadly they are.
“Also, it is highly important that Nigerians start intensifying the use of face masks because we don’t want what happened in India to happen in Nigeria. This will help us to watch the rate of transmission.”
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Government on Saturday alerted residents to the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 virus in Nigeria, saying it was capable of severely impacting infected persons within a short time and as well resist antibodies in the blood, among other worrisome attributes.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Oyebanji Filani, and the Coordinator, COVID-19 Response Task Force, Prof Mobolaji Aluko, said “World Health Organisation data shows that for seven consecutive weeks, Africa has recorded a consistent increase in COVID-19 cases.”
Filani and Aluko, in a jointly signed statement titled, ‘Ekiti responds to confirmed case of Delta variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria,’ urged the people to remain vigilant and cautious to stay free of the variant.
“Ekiti State COVID-19 Response Task Force is set to heighten surveillance and the strict enforcement of all existing measures aimed at containing the pandemic in the state.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control has registered 186 new COVID-19 cases in three states.
The NCDC said this on its official website on Saturday.
The figure represents an increase from the 146 cases recorded on Thursday and 110 cases posted on Wednesday.
The agency said the cases were recorded as of july 9, noting that Lagos had the highest number of cases at 175, while Rivers recorded eight cases and Gombe, three cases.
According to NCDC, total COVID-19 cases in Nigeria now stands at 168,442, with 1,897 active cases.
The agency said the total number of discharged cases was 164,423, adding that 2,122 persons had died of COVID-19.
The total number of samples tested was 2,331,734.