Health authorities in Nigeria have detected a confirmed case with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2.
They urged citizens to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures given the deadly nature of the variant.
“The variant was detected in a traveller to the country, following the routine travel test required of all international travellers and genomic sequencing”, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a statement Thursday.
The tests were conducted at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
The Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility. It has been detected in over ninety 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.
“As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC has 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,” Yahya Disu, NCDC’s head of communications said in the statement.
He said the move is “to enable the detection of variants of concern and initiate response activities”.
Mr Disu added further that “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 travellers to Nigeria are sequenced regularly
“The Government of Nigeria through the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has initiated several measures to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. This includes the introduction of travel restrictions from countries where there is a surge in cases associated with widespread prevalence of variants of concern.”
The NCDC urged citizens to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures given the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant.
“Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, NCDC urges all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place,” the agency said.
“Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and proper use of face masks, prevent infections and save lives. The COVID19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease,” it added.
The statement quoted the Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu as saying, “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”.
By Abel Ejikeme