Nigeria reports more COVID-19 contagious mutation from UK: Government

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The Nigerian government says it’s doing its best to curb the spread of the new strain of COVID-19 from the UK and another suspected strain first detected in South Africa.

The government also says while it’s getting set to vaccinate its population, efforts are being intensified to manage the pandemic across the country.

Since December, the Nigerian government has ramped up testing for COVID-19. However, there are main concerns over new strains of the virus.

The government says the more contagious mutation from the UK is in the country. They are now worried about the strain first detected in South Africa, which appears more resistant to some vaccines.

Nigeria fights new strain of COVID-19 from UK: 

Chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, says their scientists have been sequencing the variant.

“Over the last few weeks, the Presidential Task Force has been closely following the rising number of infections reported daily in Nigeria and in other jurisdictions. Similarly, our scientists have been sequencing the variants of the virus. There have been reports of cases with B117 variant strain first reported in the UK found in Nigeria. Three of these were travellers out of Nigeria and one a resident.”

As a result, officials have placed strict travel protocols on travellers from the UK and South Africa. They are required to quarantine for at least seven days, whether or not they have a negative test result for COVID-19.

The government says it’s necessary because the country is not expecting its supply of about 42 million doses of vaccine through the COVAX scheme until April. But many believe Nigeria may also need to invest in local productions of vaccines.

Researcher Edward Uwagbale says they are also looking for funding through the African Union or Africa CDC.

“The Nigerian government so far has not been forthcoming apart from the Nigerian government, we are also looking at the African governments funding or through the AU or African CDC coming together to fund a vaccine. It can be from any lab from any country in the continent, but the truth is that African governments should invest in research and development.”

Government sets funds aside for production of vaccines

The Nigerian government says it has set aside about USD$25 million to start work on the production of vaccines.

In the meantime, experts say Nigerian health officials have responded well to the outbreak in the country.

“The fact is that our health sector has done so well when it comes to managing COVID-19. Our people are not dying not just because people are asymptomatic, I know so many people have been admitted, but our people have worked hard. They have developed ways of managing our own people, they have taken care of our people, many of our people have been discharged they are not dying. We need to respect ourselves for that, the fact is that we have this capacity,” says Public Health Communication Specialist Dr Dale Ogunbayo.

Impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s economy:

In January, President Muhammadu Buhari signed a law to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The law serves a jail term of six months for failure to adhere to safety measures required to prevent COVID-19 like wearing facemasks and social distancing. And now, more people are beginning to adhere to these protocols to avoid being caught by officials.

The hope is that these efforts to curb the outbreak will reduce mass loss of lives and prevent another lockdown, while the government awaits the arrival of vaccines. – Reporting by Phil Ihaza. 

Nigeria announces travel restrictions on South Africa to curb the new COVID-19 variant: