The Federal Government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2. in the country.
The announcement by the health agency follows the detection of the Delta Covid-19 variant in a traveler to Nigeria during a routine travel test which is mandatory for all international passengers and genomic sequencing at NCDC Laboratory in Abuja.
This disclosure is contained in a public statement issued by NCDC and signed by its Head of Communications, Dr Yahya Disu, on Thursday, July 8, 2021, and can be seen on its website.
The NCDC in the statement urged all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures put in place, due to the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and its detection in Nigeria.
Some of these public health and social measures which will prevent infections and save lives include physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and proper use of face masks. The NCDC also added that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease.
What the NCDC is saying in the statement
The statement from NCDC partly reads:
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has detected a confirmed case with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2. The variant was detected in a traveler to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.
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 travellers to Nigeria are sequenced regularly.
‘’Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, NCDC urges all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place. 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.”
What the NCDC Director-General is saying
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, in his statement said, “Although we have seen a low number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria in the last eight weeks, it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful. The surge in cases in countries across the world and Africa is an important reminder of the risk we face. Please protect yourselves and the people you love by adhering to the known public health and social measures, getting vaccinated if you are eligible, and getting tested if you have symptoms.”
What you should know
The Delta variant is recognised 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.