FG Confirms Case of Delta Variant of C OVID -19 in Nigeria

- Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government yesterday confirmed the detection of a confirmed case of COVID-19 with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2 in Nigeria.

The Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisati­on (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissi­bility. The variant has been detected in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to more countries. The variant has also been linked to a surge in cases in countries where it is the dominant strain in circulatio­n.

There are ongoing studies to understand the impact of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeuti­cs.

A statement issued last night by the Head of Communicat­ions at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Yahaya Disu, said the variant was detected in a traveler to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all internatio­nal travellers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.

As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC said it had been working with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), and other laboratori­es within the national network, to carry out genomic sequencing.

"This is to enable the detection of variants of concern and initiate response activities. All data on variants from Nigeria have been published on GISAID, a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data.

"Given the global risk of spread of the Delta variant, positive samples from internatio­nal travelers to Nigeria is sequenced regularly," it said.

NCDC added that given the high transmissi­bility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, all Nigerians should ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place.

It added: "Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent handwashin­g, and proper use of face masks prevent infections and save lives. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease".

The federal government urged states to ensure that sample collection and testing for COVID-19 is accessible to the public, adding that public settings such as schools’ with accommodat­ion facilities, workplaces, and camps should utilise the approved Antigenbas­ed Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for rapid testing of their population.

“Although we have seen a low number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria in the last eight weeks, it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful. The surge in cases in countries across the world and Africa is an important reminder of the risk we face. Please protect yourselves and the people you love by adhering to the known public health and social measures, getting vaccinated if you are eligible and getting tested if you have symptoms,” the Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said.

NCDC stated that the recommende­d control measures to limit the spread of the Delta variant "is to continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance, and abiding by the current travel and public restrictio­ns."

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