Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu

COVID-19: Rapid mutations, new changes escalate cases – NCDC

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Monday said the rapid mutations and new changes of COVID-19 have led to the escalation of cases in many countries.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NCDC Director-General, said this in Abuja at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) briefing.

According to Ihekweazu, it’s in these mutations and new changes that new variants emerge and those variants have led to the most rapid escalation of cases as we’ve seen in many countries.

He said,” The virus changes, the more it’s transmitted, the more it develops more mutations, the more it develops the capacity to move from one individual to the other.”

Ihekweazu disclosed that Nigerians should look at the curves in other countries.

“What that tells us is that, if we’re to face a situation like that, we’ll not have the time to prepare,” he said.

“We have to use the opportunity the virus gives us now to prepare while also trying to prevent it.

“To do that, we’ve to understand what happens within the virus by consistently testing people.

“We’ve sustained our testing effort to between 30,000 and 40,000 tests a week and the 2 million mark a little bit later than we anticipated is still good progress.”

Ihekweazu explained that the other aspect is to identify the variant, which could only be done with a technique called sequencing.

He said, “We’ve now sequenced about 700 across the country, not enough but a fair bit, given how complex it’s to do that.

“I want to thank our colleagues at the African Centre for Genomics in Ede, who have been supporting the country on sequencing.”

The NCDC boss disclosed that the country’s focus was to scale up capacity in the next few weeks.