Friday, January 21

Omicron: NCDC confirm detection of 3 additional cases in Nigeria, brings total to 6

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the detection of 3 more cases of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 in Nigeria.

This disclosure is contained in a statement issued by the NCDC and signed by its Director-General Ifedayo Adetifa, on Tuesday, who said the new cases were detected in individuals with recent travel history to South Africa.

The statement said that the newly discovered cases brings the total number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant detected in Nigeria to 6.

What the NCDC is saying in the statement

The NCDC stated that all the Omicron cases so far were detected in persons with recent travel history to South Africa in November.

The statement from NCDC reads, “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed three (3) more cases of Covid-19 with the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, i.e., the Omicron variant, in Nigeria. In addition to the three cases announced earlier on 1st December 2021, this brings the total number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant detected in Nigeria to six (6).

“All the Omicron cases so far were detected in persons with recent travel history to South Africa in November.

“The NCDC through the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) continues to coordinate genomic surveillance activities across the country to sequence all positive COVID-19 samples from international travellers arriving in Nigeria,” the statement read.

“This includes sequencing of positive samples from international travellers from October 2021 to date. The Delta variant remains the dominant variant and so far, we have not seen the replacement of this variant by the new Omicron variant as observed elsewhere.

“The Omicron variant is a source of global concern because of its increased risk of transmissibility and its potential to escape protective immune responses induced by natural infection and/or vaccination.

“Taken together, and if true, the Omicron variant can significantly change the current global COVID-19 epidemiology. There is currently no evidence of generalised or community transmission of this variant in Nigeria. However, the NCDC will continue coordinating and implementing genomic surveillance activities in-country to keep Nigerians reliably informed about existing variants, the Omicron and indeed other variants that may arise based on national data and emerging global evidence.

‘’In line with Article 44 of the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) reporting framework, the Federal Government through the NCDC has also been notified by the UK Government of seven cases of travellers from Nigeria with the Omicron variant.’’

The NCDC had also noted that with the increasing number of Omicron cases in the UK, it is now prioritising the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples in travellers with a history of travel to the UK.

The statement further stated, “All viruses naturally mutate over time, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Since SARS-CoV-2 was first identified, several mutations have occurred with the emergence of new lineages.

“This will continue to happen as long as the world does not act in concert to significantly reduce transmission through vaccination and adherence to effective public health measures such as mask use, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and ensuring good ventilation.’’

What you should know

Recall that on December 1, 2021, the NCDC reported the detection of 3 cases of the new Omicron variant in the country.

The new Omicron Covid-19 variant which was reported to have been first discovered in South Africa, has spread to at least 38 other countries which include the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Israel and Hong Kong, among other countries.

The WHO has listed Omicron as a “variant of concern” and countries around the world are now restricting travel from Southern Africa, where the new strain was first detected and taking other new precautions.

The UK Government a few days ago, announced travel restrictions on travellers from Nigeria. Joining other countries like Canada, Hong Kong and others, following the detection of the Omicron variant in the country. The federal government criticized the action, which it describes as discriminatory.