A survey published by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Institute for Medical Research has revealed that the rates of infection from Covid-19 in the country is much higher than previously reported, Antoaneta Roussi reports.

The findings published on 22 February said that blood samples collected from 10,000 individuals revealed antibodies were prevalent in as many as 1 in 5 individuals in Lagos, Enugu and Nasarawa states. Based off of the results, the NCDC said it was clear that the rates of infection were much higher than those detected through the national surveillance system.

Since 14 February, the NCDC has recorded 55 different lineages of SARS-CoV-2 in Nigeria, including the B 1.1.7 variant first recorded in the UK. The diversity of SARS-CoV-2 strains adds to evidence of community transmission in different states of Nigeria, the NCDC said. To date, the country has reported 153,000 cases and more than 1,800 deaths.

“The risk of mutation is highest with increased transmission, therefore adhering to non-pharmaceutical interventions to limit COVID-19 spread is critical to prevent new variants from emerging,” Chikwe Ihekweazu, director of the NCDC said.

“It is very important that Nigerians continue to adhere to public health and social measures including regular hand washing, proper use of face masks and physical distancing.”

The study also revealed a higher rate of infection in males than females, in urban compared to rural residents, and most common in people between the ages of 18 to 64.

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