The Federal Government has alerted of the spread of highly contagious and deadly B117 variant of the COVID-19 virus in Nigeria.
The development was confirmed by Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19.
Mustapha, who was speaking during the PTF briefing in Abuja, stated that 13 cases of the new strain of COVID-19, initially found in the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa; have been found in Nigeria, with six of the cases discovered in the last one week.
“The PTF (through the NCDC) is working with the Africa CDC on genomic surveillance. A total of 13 B117 variant strain have so far been detected in Nigeria. Six out of these numbers were detected in the last one week…They all came out of samples collected between November and January.’’
Mustapha stated that the PTF had continued to sustain aggressive testing of citizens; even as he appealed to state governments to ensure utilization of the testing labs in their domains.
“Testing is still being aggressively pursued as a viable strategy…The PTF shall continue to appeal to not just the citizens to get tested but call on sub-national entities to ensure that capacity of the laboratories that have been established within their jurisdictions be fully maximized.
“This will help reduce the burden on the National Reference Laboratory and the attendant lengthy turnaround time for test results.’’
Mustapha warned that Nigeria will soon witness stringent prosecution of COVID-19 defaulters; especially now that the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari is now fully operational.
“The PFT wishes to reiterate that the provisions contained in the Regulations are lucid and are applicable to all entities (public or private sectors).
“I therefore wish to remind all MDAs of the strong need to deploy technology for meetings; retreat, etc. and to avoid large gatherings that may violate the Regulations. If such plans are on-going, they should be modified forthwith.
“The PTF considers the violation of protocols very seriously and urges international passengers arriving Nigeria to ensure compliance with the international travel protocols and observe the Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention measures while in-country,” Mustapha said.