Finally, Nigeria has confirmed the presence of the highly volatile COVID-19 case with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which detected the variant released a statement on Thursday saying the variant was detected in a traveler to Nigeria.
The discovery followed the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.
NCDC’S head of Communications, Dr. Yahya Disu, said the Delta variant is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility.
”The variant has been detected in over 90 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. There are ongoing studies to understand the impact of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeutics.
“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. This is to enable the detection of variants of concern, and initiate response activities. 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 travelers to Nigeria are sequenced regularly,” the statement further read.
According to Disu, given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, the NCDC urges all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place.
He 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 COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease.
”Additionally, states are urged to ensure sample collection and testing for COVID-19 is accessible to the public. Public settings such as schools with accommodation facilities, workplaces and camps should utilise the approved Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for rapid testing of their population.” the statement further reads.