The recently discovered variant of the Covid-19 is very contagious, as one person can spread the disease to four or five people – a higher rate of transmission than had been recorded earlier.
This is according to Virologist, Sunday Omilabu, a Nigerian scientist, and the Director of the Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology at the Lagos University College of Medicine and Teaching Hospital.
He submitted that “more people are coming down with severe signs and symptoms.”
In a bid to curtail the spread of the disease in Nigeria, Omilabu has spent a couple of weeks in a laboratory conducting genetic sequencing to learn more about the country’s Covid-19 variant, amid an increase in cases.
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He asserted that the information gathered about the variant will help battle the spread of the disease in Nigeria
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Key information about the variant
- The variants discovered in the UK and South Africa are different from the variants discovered in Nigeria.
- Nigeria is seeing more infections of Covid-19 but it is yet to be established if it is from the variant.
- Clinically, more people are coming down with severe signs and symptoms.
What they are saying
Virologist Omilabu submitted that:
- “I think we need to calm our mind down, there are going to be more variants to come. We need to be monitoring the virus, we need to sequence. If we sequence, then we would have more information about what is in circulation and then, of course, we need to continue with surveillance, we need to monitor how active the virus is in the environment… so, the public health experts, they have work to do and then government must support all these. As lab work is being done to learn more about the variant, Nigerians should remain vigilant to avoid spreading the virus.”
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said:
- “The emergence of new Covid-19 variants is common. However, those with a higher speed of transmission or potentially increased pathogenicity are very concerning. Crucial investigations are underway to comprehensively understand the behaviour of the new mutant virus and steer response accordingly.”
John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention stated that:
- “Variants are a hallmark of this type of RNA virus. The more we do sequencing of this virus, the more variants we will see… We remain optimistic that the different vaccines will remain effective against these variants.”
What you should know
- Nigeria has confirmed 89,163 Covid-19 cases, including 1,302 deaths, according to figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The new variants have emerged as Covid-19 infections and on the rise in 47 African countries, nearly reaching the peak the continent saw in July.
- In the past 28 days, 10 countries — Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda — have reported the highest number of new cases, accounting for 90% of all the infections in Africa.