On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of a novel coronavirus disease in China that was later named COVID-19. On 11 March 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The first instance of the virus in Nigeria was documented on 27 February 2020. This study provides a preliminary epidemiological analysis of the first 45 days of COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. We estimated the early transmissibility via time-varying reproduction number based on the Bayesian method that incorporates uncertainty in the distribution of serial interval (time interval between symptoms onset in an infected individual and the infector), and adjusted for disease importation. By 11 April 2020, 318 confirmed cases and 10 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in Nigeria. At day 45, the exponential growth rate was 0.07 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.05–0.10) with a doubling time of 9.84 days (95% CI: 7.28–15.18). Separately for imported cases (travel-related) and local cases, the doubling time was 12.88 days and 2.86 days, respectively. Furthermore, we estimated the reproduction number for each day of the outbreak using a three-weekly window while adjusting for imported cases. The estimated reproduction number was 4.98 (95% CrI: 2.65–8.41) at day 22 (19 March 2020), peaking at 5.61 (95% credible interval (CrI): 3.83–7.88) at day 25 (22 March 2020). The median reproduction number over the study period was 2.71 and the latest value on 11 April 2020, was 1.42 (95% CrI: 1.26–1.58). These 45-day estimates suggested that cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria have been remarkably lower than expected and the preparedness to detect needs to be shifted to stop local transmission.
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