THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday stated that it has begun the process of sequencing covid-19 samples to determine whether the new variant found in the United Kingdom (UK) is in the country.
Stating that it suspects that the UK variant of the virus is already in the country, the NCDC stressed that only sequencing can determine that, and the process will take some weeks.
The agency further disclosed that the new variant has not been linked with difference in known symptoms and severity in cases. It said the new variant is only linked with a higher transmission, which is evident in the rise in the number of new cases in recent times.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed this during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Control briefing in Abuja.
He said: “We know that there is a new variant of the virus circulating in the UK but like we have said severally, there are new variants of viruses appearing all the time. The question is whether this new variant is associated with any increase in transmission or severity. We don’t know that yet but we suspect that this variant is already in Nigeria. It will be surprising if it is not, but we simply don’t know yet.
“So, what we are doing is collecting samples of most cases and working to do the sequencing that we need to do in order to verify if these variants exist in Nigeria or not. It will take us a couple of weeks to have enough samples to analyse, to then define whether we have this new variant or not.”
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