The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has on Monday announced that the first UK COVID-19 variant also known as “B.1.1.7” has been detected in Nigeria.
The announcement was made by the PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government, Boss Mustapha during the daily PTF press briefing in Abuja, saying scientists discovered the deadlier variant after a long time of sequencing.
“Over the last few weeks, the PTF has been closely following the rising number of infections reported daily in Nigeria and other jurisdictions,” he said.
“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.
“The PTF, therefore, wishes to appeal strongly to all Nigerians to take responsibility and stay very safe. In this regard, I also wish to remind all parents, grandparents, everyone with underlying factors, and particularly school proprietors that all precautionary measures must be taken at home and in the schools when managing the pupils and students.
“The PTF will continue to work with the federal ministry of education around the reopening of schools.
“The management of cases is gradually improving with the availability of medical oxygen. Government is also fast-tracking the rehabilitation of existing plants and construction of new ones as approved by the president.”
Following the discovery of the COVID-19 deadlier variant in the UK, the British government has imposed a fresh lockdown, while some countries including U.S, Saudi Arabia, and France have banned international flights to and from the UK.
Additionally, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said the federal government plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine from late March or April, 202.
He noted that the government aims to vaccinate at least 70 percent of Nigerians by 2023.
“We are negotiating with many parties and planning for flawless execution using recent experience from polio eradication in the face of a global scramble for vaccines,” Ehanire said.
The minister explained that despite the 100,000 doses of the COVAX vaccine allocated to Nigeria, the government has placed orders for 10 million doses through the AVATT of the Africa Union Commission.
Nigeria has an indigenous vaccine candidate which will require considerable investment to get through trials. We shall seek sponsorship to take the initiative further”, he added.