By Seun Adeuyi
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has clarified that the mutant strain of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom (UK) has not been found in Nigeria.
Iheakwazu made the disclosure in Abuja during the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday.
While urging Nigerians to stay calm and safe, he explained that viruses by their very nature mutate.
He said the NCDC, in collaboration with the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), did some sequencing in the past but didn’t find the UK variant which he described as deadlier than the original strain.
His words, “Over the last few days, we’ve monitored reports of the virus mutating in the UK, South Africa and some other countries, but it’s important to establish some facts about what we know, what we do not know and what we are willing to learn over the next few years.
“We have not found the UK strain but it’s not something we have been looking for…To find that you’ve to do sequencing and our focus has not been on sequencing. We did some sequencing in the past but we have not found that.
“However, we are doing more sequencing now. Is it possible that they are circulating? Yes. This is because there are a lot of travels between the UK and Nigeria.”
He said the NCDC will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders to collect new samples for sequencing in order to determine their variant.
While urging states to reopen their testing centres, the NCDC boss said the agency alone could not conduct all COVID-19 tests received from states.