It has been confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that there are about 55 different lineages of COVID-19 circulating in the country.
The Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a statement on Friday, said the diversity of strains indicate multiple introductions into Nigeria from different parts of the world and adds to evidence of community transmission.
Ihekweazu made it known that a total of 29 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant strain, which was first described in the UK, have so far been detected in Nigeria.
According to him, these strains have been found from cases in Lagos, FCT, Osun, Oyo, and Kwara and Edo States. All samples were collected from patients between November and January 2021.
The NCDC boss said on the 11th of February, some recent SARS-CoV-2 genomes were seen to have distinct mutations and characterised as a new variant B.1.525.
The first detected B.1.525 case in Nigeria was in a sample collected on the 23rd of November from a patient in Lagos State.
ALSO READ: COVID-19 death toll in Africa passes 100,000
“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 travelers from Nigeria. Currently there is no evidence to indicate that”, Ihekweazu noted.
He further stated that in the short term, a random selection of viruses will be collected and sent to ACEGID for sequencing weekly.
On measures, NCDC said an Implementation Group for SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing in Nigeria has been constituted to pull together a coordinated response to drive genomic surveillance
The group will coordinate responses to identify variants of concern; provide a platform for sharing of specimens and access to sequence information; agree and standardise practice for the analysis of genomic data.
It will also study the impact of variants, transmission, severity, vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; ensure strong communication to maintain public confidence, and advice on the establishment of genomic surveillance for pathogens.
NCDC appealed to Nigerians to continue to take responsibility and stay safe.
“The public health measures to control this virus are the same, irrespective the variant”, the statement added.
The DG reminded everyone to avoid close contact with others, wash hands regularly using soap and water, and wear a mask properly.