— 1min read
Chikwe Iheakwazu, the director-general of the NCDC, stated this while speaking at the weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday.
While stating that the new variant dubbed B.1.525 was first discovered in a sample collected on November 23 from a patient in Lagos State, he added that it has only been found in fewer countries.
Iheakwazu also stated that it has not been classified as a variant of concern.
“So far, this has been detected among cases in five states in Nigeria. B.1.525 cases have also been reported in other countries in travellers from Nigeria,” he said.
“The ‘B.1.525 is yet to be classified as a variant of concern until it is associated with any significant clinical impact.”
VISIT ICIR COVID-19 DASHBOARD
He said Nigeria is scaling up its sequencing capacity to help it understand the ongoing transmission of the new variants.
He said about 100 samples will be sent to the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), at the Redeemers University in Ede, Osun State for sequencing every week.
In December, The United Kingdom variant (B.1.1.7) of the virus announced in September was reportedly discovered in Nigeria by scientists at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), at the Redeemers University in Ede, Osun state.
Reacting, Iheakwazu said Nigeria has now confirmed 54 cases of the variant within its borders.
He noted that scientists are monitoring the strain to understand its circulation rates in the country.
“We have confirmed 54 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant between November 2020 and February 2021,” He said.
“That is a significant number out of the 400 we have sequenced since the beginning of the outbreak.”
The NCDC boss urged the public to continue to adhere to all non-pharmaceutical measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus.
“While sequencing is important for us to understand the situation, handwashing, physical distancing and the proper use of face masks are very important to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Since its outbreak, Nigeria has recorded over 150,000 COVID-19 cases and over 1,800 deaths with 129,391 recoveries from the virus.