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UK Variant of COVID-19 now in Nigeria, says PTF

The presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 has said the country has been hit by the COVID-19 strain first reported in the United Kingdom

Boss Mustapha, PTF chairman and secretary to the government of the federation, made this known at the PTF briefing in Abuja, on Monday.

He said scientists found the variant in Nigeria 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.”

As a measure to curtail the spread, the PTF announced a month extension in phased ease of lock down.

The UK variant known as B.1.1.7 is said to be deadlier than the original strain.

Since the discovery of the virus strain, more cases have been reported in the UK as the government imposed lockdowns in parts of the country.

Many countries, including France and Saudi Arabia, have banned international flights to the UK over new strain of COVID-19.

This has led to concerns about the effectiveness of existing vaccines against COVID-19, especially as the vaccines were developed in the UK.

In December, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said a new variant of COVID-19 was reported in Nigeria.

Nkengasong said the virus strain is different from the one in the UK.

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