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Covid-19: News strain detected in Nigeria

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Covid-19: News strain detected in Nigeria

Scientists have discovered a mutated variant of the Corona Virus in Nigeria

The new variant of the coronavirus currently causing panic and concern in the United Kingdom and the European Union has been identified in Nigeria by scientists at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), at the Redeemers University in Ede, Osun State.

The new variant, detected in the UK in September and dubbed “lineage B.1.1.7” has triggered the current exponential spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the larger path of the United Kingdom, leading to a travel ban on the UK by some countries and a stay-at-home tier-4 level restriction in the affected paths of the country.

Now, scientists at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Ede, in South West Nigeria, said Monday, through a publication in Virological, a website for the global Genomics community, that they found the same variant “lineage B.1.1.7” existing in Osun State Nigeria since August 3rd when the first sample was collected. Another sample, also from Osun State, was collected in October correspondingly showed the presence of this new variant.

According to Christian Happi, Professor of molecular biology and genomics who is also the Director at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), “the B.1.1.7 lineage we found in Nigeria, predating the one described in the UK, has also been observed to rise rapidly in the UK over the past four weeks, indicating the plausible increased spread of the virus by specific non-synonymous mutations in the spike protein.” (Covid-19)

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Although Nigeria has in December recorded a rise in the number of cases and an increase in deaths, Mr Happi told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview that he cannot credit the new variant for this rise as it was last seen in October and at the time, there was no surge in the number of cases.

“We however haven’t observed such rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria and do not have sufficient evidence to indicate that the B.1.1.7 lineage is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria,” he said.

Should this be a case for panic and worry for Nigerians? Mr. Happi’s team made a case for caution, warning that although the new variant might not be responsible for the rise in cases, that could change when new samples are sequenced.(Covid-19)

“At the moment, only about 1% of the genomes from Nigeria belong to the new SARS-CoV-2 variant (B.1.1.7 lineage) and one of them predates the first description in the UK. However, this might change in the next few weeks when we sequence more samples from the recently reported surge of covid-19 in Nigeria” they announced, noting that, “other reported mutations such as the N501Y, A570D, and the HV 69 – 70 deletion in the spike protein have not been detected in our genomes yet, this could also be associated with the non-increase of the lineage in Nigeria currently.”

“In as much as the full effect of this mutation isn’t known yet and it is still being studied, the importance of a robust genomic surveillance system cannot be overemphasized as we can identify and report changes in the genomes of pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 that are of public health interest,” the report said.

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From the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Director General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a tweet on Sunday, said, “while we study data in Nigeria and await additional guidance from @WHO on new strains causing COVID19, travelers MUST implement travel protocol.”

Federal authorities responded to the development by ordering the immediate closure of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants across the country. The number of guests at weddings, conferences, among others have also been limited to 50 persons, according to the chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, while speaking at its briefing on Monday.

Also following the announcement of the identification of the new variant of the coronavirus in the UK, countries have begun to issue travel ban at varying degrees.

These countries include the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Switzerland and Canada as the most recent as of the time of filing this report.

The BBC reported that top health officials said that there was no evidence the new variant was more deadly or would react differently to vaccines, but it was proving to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new strain “was out of control. We have got to get it under control”, admitting that this was “an incredibly difficult end to frankly an awful year”, the report said.

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The BBC has also reported that It was first detected in September. In November around a quarter of cases in London were the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December.

The WHO has said it is in close contact with the UK adding that the same strain has been identified in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.

There are rising concerns on whether the mutation in the virus will affect the vaccines. Scientists, however, have said the new variant will have no effect on the vaccine although a close watch has to be kept. (Covid-19)

“It stands to reason that this mutation isn’t a threat, but you never know. We still have to be diligent and continue to look,” said Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

A presentation by David Robertson, from the University of Glasgow, on Friday, concluded: “The virus will probably be able to generate vaccine escape mutants.”

Vaccine escape happens when the virus changes so it dodges the full effect of the vaccine and continues to infect people.

Additionally, “the amount of evidence in the public domain is woefully inadequate to draw strong or firm opinions on whether the virus has truly increased transmission,” said Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham. (Covid-19)

 

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Civil servants in Lagos State to work from home

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Civil servants in Lagos State to work from home

Lagos Orders Civil Servants To Work From Home Till February 1

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has directed civil servants on Level 14 and below to work from home till February 1, 2021, as part of measures to contain the coronavirus disease’s spread the second wave of the pandemic.
This was contained in a statement signed on Saturday by the Head of Service in the state, Hakeem Muri-Okunola.

Muri-Okunola, however, noted that the directive excludes staff on essential duty as well as first responders.He said, “Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has approved a further extension of the work-from-home order to all State Public Servants on Grade Levels 14 and below from Monday, January 18 2021, to Monday, February 1 2021, to curtail the spread of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.”He urged all public servants to stay safe and ensure continued observance of all COVID-19 protocols for physical distancing, use of face masks, regular washing of hands with soap and running water as well as the use of hand sanitisers.”
Muri-Okunola also stated that the weekly duty rosters should be maintained for effective service delivery by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the State Government.

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Police officers abducted by bandits in Kaduna

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Police officers abducted by bandits in Kaduna

Some Bandits have Abducted 18 Police Officers In Kaduna

Gunmen suspected to be bandits have abducted 18 police officers around Farin-Ruwa junction along the Birnin Gwari- Funtua road in Kaduna State.SaharaReporters gathered that the policemen were on transit from Minna in Niger State to Kano State when they were attacked on Friday.

However, Sources said about 10 of the officers were rescued by military operatives at Maganda on Saturday.Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU) Chairman, Barrister Salisu Haruna, confirmed the attack in a statement.Haruna said police officers around Dogon Dawa and other nearby communities had been told of the incident.He said, “Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU) reports that the whereabouts of 18 Police Officers attacked along Birnin Gwari Funtua road on Friday 15 January 2021 is unascertained.“The 18 police officers, who are on surveillance along Birnin Gwari Funtua road, were attacked on Friday. As at the time of filing this report, we could not ascertain the number of casualties. Eyewitness feared that some of the police officers were killed while others are said to be missing in the bush.“Reports confirmed that two police have called via phone to inform home that they were attacked and that they could not locate their location.“Similarly, Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU) reports that on Thursday an unconfirmed number of bandits have ransacked Damari village in Dogon Dawa constituency of Birnin Gwari local government area. The bandits who came on several bikes were said to have carted away heavy food commodities and stole many motorcycles. They did not kill anyone. They spent three hours in Damari village without any confrontation by the security.“Birnin Gwari Emirates Progressives Union begs the government, upon who the protection of our lives and property is reposed on, to sit up and face security issues in Birnin Gwari squarely until victory is ascertained.”Calls put across by SaharaReporters to Mohammed Jalige, the Kaduna State Police Command spokesperson, were not picked nor returned.

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Covid-19: 1598 new cases in Nigeria

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Covid-19: 1598 new cases in Nigeria

1598 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;

Lagos-461
FCT-206
Plateau-197
Rivers-168
Kaduna-116
Anambra-53
Ogun-49
Ebonyi-47
Edo-42
Sokoto-32
Imo-31
Katsina-31
Oyo-30
Akwa Ibom-27
Delta-16
Kano-16
Abia-15
Niger-15
Ondo-11
Bayelsa-10
Borno-9
Kebbi-8
Ekiti-7
Jigawa-1

108,943 confirmed
85,367 discharged
1,420 deaths

Our discharges today includes 430 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with guidelines.

 

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