The Federal Government has confirmed 32 cases of Delta Variant of the COVID-19, moving the country into the third wave of the pandemic.
Dr. Chike Ihekweazu, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said this Monday at the national briefing of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19.
In Akwa-Ibom State, 80 percent of the tests conducted have resulted in the deadly Delta variant of the virus.
Consequently, the state has joined the eight states of Lagos, Oyo, Kaduna, Kano, Akwa-Ibom, Plateau, Rivers, and the FCT as states of concern.
“As of this morning (Monday), 32 cases of the Delta variant are confirmed in Nigeria from five states, Abuja, Oyo, Cross River, Lagos, and Akwa Ibom. Several of them are returning travellers, others are local transmissions.
The largest batch of sequencing we received this morning came from Akwa Ibom. Nineteen of the 23 cases were the Delta variant. Because of this, 80 percent of the cases in Akwa Ibom today are from sequencing that turned out to be delta.
I expect there to be a spike in transmission from Akwa Ibom, which will result in sequencing challenges. Akwa Ibom was not a hotspot in the first and second waves. The FCT, Kaduna, and Lagos were on the list. This is a new state, so there has been a lot of attention paid to it. Someone brought a delta strain back to Akwa Ibom and spread it there.
We are seeing more cases of this variant due to its high transmissibility, Ihekweazu said. He continued, “So we’re intensifying our efforts to contain it.”.
In Lagos, he says, there haven’t been as many sequenced cases as the government would like.
There are three public facilities in Nigeria that have sequencing capability: NIMA, NCDC, and the Africa Centre for Excellence in Genomics in Ede. As well as the public sector players, a few private companies like 54 gene and Lego Laboratories have this capability.
Our goal is to identify the best facility to sequence the samples in Lagos so that we can work together. In the coming days, we will definitely scale the sequence coming throughout the playoffs so that we fully understand what is going on in Lagos. Currently, more than half of all positive cases in Nigeria are reported from Lagos state; at one point, it was even as high as 70 percent. Therefore, understanding what is happening in Lagos is crucial to understanding what is happening in the country.”
Regarding the validity of the third wave, he said, “There is no scientific definition of when it starts or stops. But we are seeing an increase in cases in the last few weeks.
“But Nigeria is a big country, isn’t it?” As we have a third wave nationally, we need to look at the data at a slightly more differentiated level. Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, and Rivers are the states where most of the cases have been reported. In many states, especially right now in northern Nigeria, I am not seeing many cases. The situation is still very different in different states in Nigeria, and that is why we want to continue our surveillance and advise our colleagues on how to respond.
Stringent measures may be introduced
According to Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Security Committee on COVID-19, Nigeria will not hesitate to implement strict measures to protect citizens, though the country’s citizens should determine how long mask-wearing will continue.
“Nothing is off the table,” he said. When it comes to protecting the lives of the people in this country, nothing is off the table. Regardless of the severity of the measures we take, we won’t hesitate to put them into effect.
“All countries are taking different measures. Countries that were adjudged to have dealt successfully with COVID-19 had to impose certain measures to ensure that they continue to live in balance with their lives and livelihoods. There is no such thing as an off-limits topic. The situation will be studied further.
We have always made informed decisions based on science, facts, and the experiences of other jurisdictions. We will continue to do that. Since it is extremely important that the COVID-19 virus is novel, we will continue to study its behavior.
“Everyone is learning about mutations and all sorts of things.”. Nobody knows the whole story. We will discuss it at an appropriate moment when we get to the point where we are comfortable with the variant in the country, not just Delta but also other variants, Mustapha said.
The government is not hesitating to impose processes or protocols that will help protect the people since the country is dealing with different variants, and the world is also dealing with a variety of variants.