The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says the B117 variant of COVID-19 first reported in the United Kingdom has been found in Nigeria.
Boss Mustapha, PTF chairman and secretary to the government of the federation, made this known at the PTF briefing in Abuja, on Monday, January 25.
“Over the last few weeks, the PTF has been closely following the rising number of infections reported daily in Nigeria and other jurisdictions.”
Speaking on the recent discovery, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, further disclosed that there were already four positive cases of the highly contagious UK Covid-19 strain.
Ihekweazu added that those who tested positive include three Nigerians who had travelled out of the country and one in-country, adding that it was not surprising to find the new strain in the country given the frequency of travel between the UK and Nigeria.
“In the last week, we have had three reports of the UK variant of interest, the B117 strain found in individuals that have left Nigeria to two other countries.
“When they were tested, this strain was found in them within a week of returning to Nigeria. This was reported to us through the international health regulations and it is most likely this strain was acquired in Nigeria.
“With our partners, the African Centre for Excellence in Genomics in Ede, we sent 50 samples to them and one of those samples had the UK variant linked to increased transmission,” he explained.
Ihekweazu said that the agency would keep intensifying its genomics surveillance and genomics sequencing, in collaboration with its partners, as shutting down international travel would not achieve much, so long as the virus was still ravaging in other countries.
He further disclosed that the NCDC had rolled out rapid diagnostic test kits, which were used at the National Youth Service Orientation camps, adding that 22,119 individuals had been tested, with 765 confirmed cases, using the RTDs in every state, except Kogi.