FG: No South Africa’s COVID-19 Variant in Nigeria

Reveals presence of 13 cases of UK strain in the country

By Olawale Ajimotokan

The federal government has said that a contagious strain of COVID-19 discovered in South Africa and isolated in 30 countries, including the United States has not been detected in Nigeria.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu made this disclosure yesterday in Abuja at the media briefing by Presidential Task Force on COVID- 19.

The deadly South African variant known as B.1.351 or 501.V2, has been giving epidemiologists and scientists concern because of its ability to mutate in large numbers, which makes some COVID-19 vaccines less effective.

Iheakweazu however confirmed the distressing news that 13 cases of the equally contagious 13 B117 strain, which is predominant in the United Kingdom have been reported in Nigeria.

He said six cases were discovered in Lagos, five in Osun and one each in Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory.

Also shedding light on the virus mutation, the Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha said six of the new cases of the UK strain were detected in the last one week and they all came out of samples collected between November and January.

He said that testing was still being aggressively pursued as a viable strategy while the PTF would continue to appeal to not just the citizens to get tested but call on sub-national entities to ensure that capacity of the laboratories that have been established within their jurisdictions are fully maximised.

Also speaking at the briefing, the National Incident Manager, PTF, Dr. Mukhtar Muhammad, said that the PTF has sent technical teams to conduct supervisory visits in each state across the federation. He said the teams are to observe state COVID-19 interventions and provide technical assistance towards addressing any challenges faced while the goal of the exercise is to ramp up testing by ensuring that there are sample collection sites at the local government level.

He also added that the list of second batch of 100 international travellers, who defaulted by refusing to subject themselves to the mandatory second test seven-day after arrival will be published today.

He said the list has also been submitted to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to effect the ban of the protocols violators from international travels for six months.

Meanwhile DG COVID-19 National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Faisal Shuaib has advised states and private organisations desirous of acquiring vaccines independently to do so through the African collaboration, which the federal government has keyed into.

Shuaib said that vaccines are very sensitive, insisting that allowing private organisations, including state governments to buy in the international open market will expose them to the risk of buying fake vaccines.

“We have to be sensitive to liberalisation and allowing states to buy in the open market so that we don’t have fake vaccines. The vaccines are just not on the shelves because the developing nations are mopping up the vaccines; that is why were are partnering with the African task force to ensure we get the vaccines, “Shuaib said.

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