The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has insisted that the Omicron COVID-19 variant has not been detected in the country as concerns continued to mount over the new infection designated as a variant of concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
KanyiDaily recalls that the Canadian Government had announced that two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been confirmed in persons who recently traveled from Nigeria.
The Indonesian Government had also announced that it will ban travellers from Nigeria and seven other African countries to curb the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
However, in a statement on Sunday, the NCDC Director-General, Ifedayo Adetifa insisted that the new Omicron COVID-19 variant has not been detected in the country.
According to him, the NCDC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, it is monitoring emerging evidence on the new variant and its implication to inform the country’s response to the pandemic.
Omicron COVID-19 Variant Not In Nigeria – NCDC
The statement reads: “The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are aware of reports of a new COVID-19 variant — the B.1.1.529 lineage.
“This SARS-CoV-2 variant has now been designated a variant of concern (VOC) and named; Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as advised by the independent Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).
“While this variant has so far NOT been detected in Nigeria, a number of cases have now been reported in the UK, Israel, Botswana, Hong-Kong, Germany, Belgium, Italy and counting.
“However, no deaths have been attributed to this new variant yet. A total of 126 genomes of this variant have been detected globally and published on GISAID, (GISAID is a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data).
“Given the high number of mutations present in this Omicron variant and the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases observed in South Africa, this virus is considered highly transmissible and may also present an increased risk of reinfection compared to other VOCs.
“However, the fears about its ability to evade protective immune responses and/or its being vaccine resistant are only theoretical so far. This virus can still be detected with existing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.
“The WHO and researchers across the world are working at speed to gain understanding of the likely impact of this variant on the severity of COVID-19 and on the potency of existing vaccines and therapeutics.
“The NCDC continues to ensure daily review of surveillance data and uses this to inform public health decision making.
“Therefore, we urge all States to ensure that sample collection and testing are accessible, so that travellers, people with symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 cases get tested promptly.”
KanyiDaily recalls that Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka had revealed how he was prevented from boarding a flight at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, over his failure to obtain a ‘permit to travel’ to Nigeria.