By Mosunmola Ayobami, Kwara
The new Delta variant of the dreaded Covid-19 is taking its toll in Kwara State. Between 24th and 29th of August, the state recorded 6, 31, 42, 13, 30, cases respectively, totalling 122 in five days, according to daily statistics by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The Delta variant is reputed to be deadly and highly contagious by health experts. It is spreading fast across the country and killing countless number of people.
Yet, the Federal Government has been reluctant to put in place a strict guideline to contain the spread.
In the absence of any federal proclamation, each state is, therefore, expected to put in place some measures to protect their people from the scourge. However, this has not been the case in some of the states.
In Kwara State for instance, there has not been any safety guideline for people to follow as a form of guide against contracting the virus, like the mandate on compulsory nose mask.
The lack of continuous sensitization has resulted in little awareness by many Kwarans, who spoke with Westernpost on the issue.
Respondents told our correspondent that the state government is not doing enough in sensitisation and awareness creation about the deadly virus
A community health student, Amao Boluwatife, said she heard about the new virus but called for more information on how to prevent its spread in the state, as many people are ignorant of its spread and how deadly it is.
She called for mobilization of health workers who would enlighten the general public about the deadly virus, distribution of hand sanitizers, strategic positioning of hand wash basin with water and enforcement of nose mask in public places.
“Yes I heard about it, but I don’t have much information on it. I want the state government to do more on preventive measures; they should provide more hand sanitizers, nose masks and mobilize health workers to enlighten the residents,” she said.
Ajamu Victor, a Food Engineering student said the state government should embark on mobilizing the people, while at the same time come out with rules on mandatory wearing of nose masks to curb the spread of the deadly variant.
Adeniyi Philip and Onarinde Stephen, who are also students, expressed concern over the little information available from the government and the lack of concrete action to curtail the spread.
An agricultural student, Adebayo Boluwatife said: “I don’t think the state government is doing much on awareness creation. The last time there was much sensitisation was when COVID-19 broke out. It will be better if the state government can do more on awareness creation about the Delta variant. That could be done through television, radio and social media platforms.”
Dr Femi Aiyemowa, who is a medical doctor (General Practice), explained that Covid-19, as a viral disease affecting the respiratory system, has symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body pains and can progress to shortness of breath.
He noted that viruses in general evolve over time and undergo changes as they spread and replicate.
“The changes are ways by which they try to adapt to new circumstances. This is how a variant develops. A viral variant is a subtype of that group of viruses that share the predominant genetic characteristics. They belong to the same family but exhibit certain peculiarities. Hence, we have alpha, beta, gamma and now delta variants.
“The major worry right now is Delta, because it is a highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, which was first identified in India in December. It swept rapidly through that country and Great Britain before reaching the U.S., and it is the dominant strain now around the world.
“It is believed by some scientists to be the most spreadable or transmissible virus that has ever occurred. With the original Wuhan strain, one person on average infected two to three others. With the Delta variant, one person infects five to eight people. This exponential spread has made it the most dominant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variants.
“It spreads 50% faster than the Alpha variant (the variant that arose in the United Kingdom), and Alpha was 50% faster than the Wuhan variant. This makes the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 a super-spreader.
“In terms of the symptoms, delta variant has some peculiarities. It seems like cough and loss of smell are less common. And headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are present based on the most recent surveys in the U.K., where more than 90% of the cases are due to the Delta strain,” he said.
Dr Aiyemowa added that ear pain and some hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets like vomiting and passing frequent loose stool have been observed and blood clots leading to gangrene.
“Delta variant has been found to infect and produce symptoms more in children and young people as opposed to the original strain.
“What we know so far, people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus continue to have strong protection against COVID-19, including the variants compared to those who aren’t.
“But anyone who is unvaccinated and not practicing preventive strategies is at high risk for infection by the new variant.
“When the unvaccinated people get infected by this delta variants, it results in more severe symptoms and increase in hospitalization. Some vaccinated people can still get infected by this delta variant but generally produces milder symptoms but they can spread it too.
“Therefore, everyone including those who have received the vaccines need to still observe regular precautions such as hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing of facemasks,” he added.
Commissioner for Health in the state, Raji Rasak could not be reached as messages sent to him on what the state government is doing about the delta variant were not responded to.