The federal government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Health has dismissed reports about the outbreak of a new and deadly variant of COVID-19 in the country.
It would be recalled that the content of a memo from the National Obstetric Fistula Centre, Abakaliki, Ebonyi state had suggested the outbreak of the new variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The memo which went viral about a week ago, dated August 22, 2023, and signed by Dr. Yakubu E. N., advised against hugging and recommends wearing double face masks.
According to the memo, the new COVID-19 variant, known as “BA.4 and BA.5 COVID delta,” presents with different symptoms like “a lot of joint pain, headache, neck and upper back pain, general weakness, loss of appetite, and pneumonia.”
It added that this variant is “more virulent and with a higher mortality rate,” cautioning that it “takes less time to go to extremes. Sometimes without symptoms.”
The memo also warns that nasal swab tests for the new variant are often false negatives, making it more challenging to diagnose.
However, a statement on Friday, 1st September by the spokesperson of the federal ministry of health, Patricia Deworitshe, said the content of the memo was a fabrication, unverified and unsubstantiated.
Deworitshe added that the Minister of State for Health, Tunji Alausa has met with the management of the Fistula Centre over the purported memo.
She urged members of the public to disregard the memo as fake, noting that only the Nigerian Centre for Disease and Control (NCDC) is empowered to release information on such matters.
“The information from the purported internal memo emanating from National Obstetric Fistula Centre, Abakaliki, in which the Head of Clinical Services warned the staff to take caution as the Covid-19 was on the prowl again, cannot be sustained and therefore not true,” the statement reads.
“The public should be informed that no new COVID-19 case or infection has been detected in our Centre. No new Covid-19 patient has been presented or diagnosed in our Centre for the past one year.
“There is no rise in COVID-19 cases in Abakaliki or in Ebonyi State in general.
“The information contained in the said internal memo was a product of unverified and unsubstantiated flying news from social media.
“The general public is therefore advised to disregard the memo and its content.
“It is only the Nigerian Centre for Disease and Control (NCDC) that is statutorily empowered to release information on such matters as COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Naija News recalls the NCDC has also said there is no need to panic as the new COVID-19 variant has not been diagnosed in Nigeria.