July 08, 2021 | Abuja – Confirmed case of Delta variant discovered in Nigeria
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has discovered 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 after the routine travel test for all international travelers and genome sequencing was required at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.
The Delta variant is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern due to its increased transferability. The variant was discovered in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to other countries. The variant has also been linked to spikes in countries where it is the dominant variety in circulation. There are ongoing studies to understand the effects of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeutics.
As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC has worked with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), the African Center for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) and other laboratories within the national network to perform genome sequencing. This should enable the detection of worrying variants and initiate reaction activities. All variant data from Nigeria was published on GISAID, a global mechanism for exchanging sequencing data. Given the global risk of spreading the Delta variant, positive samples from international travelers to Nigeria are regularly sequenced.
The Nigerian government has taken several measures through the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. This includes the introduction of travel restrictions from countries with an increase in cases associated with a widespread prevalence of worrying variants. The national travel protocol, which includes mandatory seven-day self-isolation and a retest on the seventh day after arrival, is designed to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. It is very important that this is strictly observed to prevent an increase in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
Given the high portability of the Delta variant and after its discovery in Nigeria, NCDC urges all Nigerians to ensure strict compliance with applicable public health and social measures. Proven public health and social measures like physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and the correct use of face masks prevent infections and save lives. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and offers protection against the disease.
Additionally, states are urged to ensure that sample collection and testing for COVID-19 is available to the public. Public institutions such as schools with shelters, workplaces, and camps should use the approved antigen-based rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for rapid testing of their populations.
According to the director general of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, “Although we have seen a small number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria in the past eight weeks, it is incredibly important that we remember to be careful. The rise in cases in countries around the world and in Africa is an important reminder of the risk we are at. Please protect yourself and the people you love by following known public health and social measures, getting vaccinated when you are eligible, and getting tested when you have symptoms.
The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the Delta variant will continue to be tested, following existing public health guidelines and complying with current travel and public restrictions.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control is the country’s national health institute mandated to lead the preparation, detection and response to public health emergencies. The draft law establishing the NCDC was enacted by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2018. The mission of the NCDC is: “To protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a one-health approach, led by research and by a skilled workforce”.
NCDC toll free number: 6232 | SMS: 08099555577 | WhatsApp: 07087110839 Twitter: @NCDCGov | Facebook: @NCDCgov | Instagram: @NCDCgov | NCDC media releases
Dr. Yahya Disu
Head of Communication
Nigeria Center for Disease Control