NIGERIA – The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed a case of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2 in the country.

The health agency found the variant in a traveler to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.

In a statement announcing the confirmation of the Delta variant, the NCDC urged all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place.

“The variant has also been linked to a surge in cases in countries where it is the dominant strain in circulation. There are ongoing studies to understand the impact of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeutics”, it stated.

The Delta variant is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility. The variant has been detected in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to more countries.

“The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the Delta variant continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the current travel and public restrictions,” Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said.

The agency revealed its efforts in collaboration with sister agencies towards the detection of the variant in Nigeria.

As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC has been working with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), and other laboratories within the national network, to carry out genomic sequencing.

This development comes days after the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the speedy spread in infection rates in Africa as countries battle a third wave of COVID-19.

In a statement issued on July 1, the WHO had raised concern over variants of concern, especially the delta variant, adding that infection rates are doubling every week, and the virus is spreading faster than previous records.

The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 168,110 confirmed cases.

To date, 168,110 cases have been confirmed, 164,408 cases have been discharged and 2,122 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal capital territory.

A total of 2.33 million tests have been carried out as of 7th July 2021 compared to 2.3 million tests a day earlier.