There are about 55 variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease circulating in Nigeria, according to the government.
Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the disclosure in a statement this evening.
He said: “As of February 14 2021, there are about 55 different lineages of SARS-CoV-2 known to be circulating in Nigeria and they are changing rapidly.
“The diversity of SARS-CoV-2 strains indicate multiple introductions of the virus into Nigeria from different parts of the world and adds to evidence of community transmission in different states of Nigeria.”
Dr Ihekweazu said that a total of 29 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant strain, which was first described in the United Kingdom and shown to be linked to increase in transmissibility, have so far been detected in Nigeria.
These strains were detected from cases in Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Osun, Oyo, Kwara and Edo States.
All samples with the B.1.1.7 variant strain were collected from patients between November and January 2021, he said.
He said that on the 11th of February, some recent SARS-CoV-2 genomes were seen to have distinct mutations and characterised as a new variant B.1.525, adding that so far, this has been detected among cases in five states in the country.
The NCDC boss said B.1.525 is a new strain, but not yet a variant of concern and further analysis is ongoing.
“As at the 17th of February, these have been reported from United Kingdom (44), Denmark (35), Nigeria (30), United States of America (12), Canada (5), France (5), Ghana (4), Australia (2), Jordan (2), Singapore (1), Finland (1), Belgium (1) and Spain (1).
“The first detected B.1.525 case in Nigeria was in a sample collected on the 23rd of November from a patient in Lagos State, “ he added.