The deadly B117 strain of COVID-19, first reported in the United Kingdom and also in South Africa, has been found in Nigeria.
This was disclosed on Monday in Abuja by the chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the pandemic and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
While expressing concern over increasing numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the last one week, he also announced that after reviewing the guidelines on the implementation of phase three of the eased lockdown which was expired on Monday, the task force has extended the implementation of the guidelines by one month.
He noted that the PTF had been monitoring developments around case management in the country and other parts of the world, explaining that four persons had been diagnosed with the B117 strain.
He added that while three were travellers from Nigeria to other places, the fourth person was discovered in-country.
The PTF boss said: ”Over the last few weeks, the PTF 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 the B117 variant strain, first reported in the UK, found in Nigeria. Three of these were in travellers out of Nigeria and one a resident.”
He stated that the PTF has plans to take further containment actions to slow down the spread of the virus, with special attention to be paid to the council areas of the country considered to be high burden.
On the status of infection, he stated: “The daily statistics for Nigeria as at 24th January were as follows: Cases – 121,566; Tests – 1,270,523; Active Cases – 22,834 (19.4%); Discharged – 97,228; Deaths – 1,504
“Looking back over the seven days ending 23rd January, I also wish to give you the following statistics: Tests – 58,974; Cases – 11,179; Test Positivity – 19.0%; Deaths – 62; Case Fatality Ratio – 0.6%; Active: 23,568.
“All these numbers represent increases from the previous seven days and we are looking at taking further public health containment measures in local government Areas that are considered high burden.”
Citing increasing number of infections, Mustapha said though the five weeks of observance for guidelines introduced for the third phase of the eased lockdown had expired, the set of measures assembled for the period would be sustained for another month.
According to him, “The PTF is improving on the International Travel Portal to minimise the challenges passengers keep encountering. Similarly, it is reviewing the guidelines on the implementation of phase three of the eased lockdown which is due to expire today.
“In view of the fact that our numbers are not abating, all extant measures prescribed in these guidelines are (subject to some modifications) extended by a period of one month with effect from Tuesday, 26th January, 2020.
“These measures, by way of reminder include: Advisory to the sub-national entities to enforce adherence to non-pharmaceutical initiatives already well publicised; sanctions against international passengers that failed to show up for day-seven post arrival testing.
“Implementation of the National Testing Week Strategy (450/774 Tests); Sustaining the hours of curfew; and the decision to direct government employees on GL 12 and below to work from home till the end of January.”