The rampaging coronavirus pandemic is still biting harder as Nigeria on Wednesday recorded additional five fatalities from the virus and 856 fresh infections.
This is as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has downplayed the seriousness of a new variant that has been detected in France.
The latest statistics released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) early Thursday morning, revealed that the fresh cases were reported across 19 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The new cases have raised Nigeria’s infection toll to 245,404 cases, while the fatality toll now stands at 3,058.
The data also shows that while 25,099 people are still down with the illness, 217,247 people have been successfully treated and discharged in Nigeria.
This is as Kaduna, Enugu, Kano and Lagos State reported discharge cases for January 4, 2022.
The breakdown of the NCDC data revealed that Lagos State, the epicentre of the disease, topped the infection chart with a backlog of 337 cases for January 4, 2022, followed by Kaduna State with 152 confirmed cases reported for January 4 and 5, 2022, wand an additional 123 cases for December 24 and 25, 2021.
FCT followed on the log with 87 fresh cases, Gombe State, 47; Delta, 43; while Kano reported 31 cases for January 4 and 5, 2022.
While Kwara State reported 27 cases, Enugu State followed with a backlog of 26 cases for January 4 and Nasarawa reported 19 cases.
Also, Niger State reported 15 cases for January 2, while Oyo and Rivers States reported 11 cases each.
While Benue and Borno states reported nine and seven cases each for January 4, Bauchi and Ogun states recorded eight cases each, and Ekiti State, six, with Edo State recording five cases.
Plateau and Bayelsa came last on the log with four and three cases respectively, while Ondo, Osun and Sokoto states reported that they recorded no cases on Wednesday.
WHO speaks on new variant
The new variant which is identified as B.1.640.2 and nicknamed IHU, was first identified in October 2021 and uploaded on November 4 to Gisaid, a database for disease variants.
Experts confirmed that since November 4, only about 20 samples have been sequenced and that a single case was found since early December.
Abdi Mahmud, a COVID-19 incident manager with the WHO, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the variant had been on the agency’s radar since November, but added that it did not appear to have spread widely over the past two months, New York Times reports.
“That virus has had a lot of chances to pick up,” he said.
Scientists in France discovered a new strain of coronavirus that is believed to be more infectious than the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The IHU variant is said to have 46 mutations and 37 deletions. At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported, with reports indicating that the majority of the victims were hospitalised.
By contrast, the Omicron variant, which was first uploaded to Gisaid on November 23, has more than 120,000 sequences in the database, with experts saying that the vast majority of Omicron cases have not been sequenced.
It has been detected in at least 128 countries, according to the WHO, and is fueling record-high case numbers in many parts of the world.
According to a research paper that was published on a preprint server in late December, the variant was first detected in southeastern France in a vaccinated person who had recently travelled from Cameroon.
Researchers found a total of 12 cases in the area and named the variant “I.H.U.,” after the research institute in Marseille that helped identify it.
“It is too early to speculate on virological, epidemiological or clinical features of this I.H.U. variant based on these 12 cases,” researchers wrote.
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