The Federal Government has said that the new mutant strain of the coronavirus disease in the UK has not been discovered in Nigeria.
This disclosure was made by the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu, on Thursday, December 24, 2020, during the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja.
While advising Nigerians to stay calm and safe, Iheakwazu noted that viruses by their very nature mutate.
What the DG NCDC is saying
The NCDC boss said that the agency, sometime ago, partnered with the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), to do some sequencing, but did not find the UK variant which he described as deadlier than the original strain.
He said, “Over the last few days, we have monitored reports of the virus mutating in the UK, South Africa and some other countries, but it is important to establish some facts about what we know, what we do not know and what we are willing to learn over the next few years.
“We haven’t found the UK strain but it is not something we have been looking for…To find that you have to do sequencing and our focus has not been on sequencing. We did some sequencing in the past but we haven’t found that.
“However, we are doing more sequencing now. Is it possible that they are circulating? Yes. This is because there are a lot of travels between the UK and Nigeria.’’
While pointing out that NCDC would collaborate with other stakeholders to collect new samples for sequencing in order to determine their variant, Ihekweazu advised state governments to reopen testing centres as the health agency cannot conduct all the tests alone.
He said, “This is ongoing work. It cannot happen in a hurry. It is very complex. Sequencing is not a straight forward business which is why we have only a few centres that are able to do it.’’
What you should know
- It can be recalled that about 2 weeks ago, the UK Government warned that a new strain of Covid-19 spreads faster and had already left the UK.
- The new variant which UK scientists warned that it carries mutations that could infect more children as it spreads, unlike the previous strains, has spread to several other countries.
- However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against any panic over the new Covid-19 variant and stated that mutations are normal in the cycle of a virus.