The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been recorded in the country.
In a statement on Wednesday morning, December 1, 2021, the Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said the Omicron variant was discovered through genomic sequencing of positive samples by the NCDC in two travelers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria in the last week.
He added that the two patients were asymptomatic and contact tracing had begun, while arrangements are also being made to notify the country where travel originated according to the provisions of the International Health Regulations.
Adetifa urged States to ensure strict compliance with preventive measures while ramping up sample collection and testing, especially with approved Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT).
The NCDC boss also urged Nigerians to get vaccinated and adhere to the proven safety measures such as wearing face masks, regular hand washing and (or) sanitizing with alcohol-based sanitizers, and physical distancing.
Nigeria Records Two Cases Of Omicron COVID-19 Variant
The statement partly reads, “In line with the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through its National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Abuja —confirmed Nigeria’s first case of the Omicron variant, also known as the B.1.1.529 lineage.
“Genomic sequencing of positive cases from routine day two test for all travelers to Nigeria identified two cases of Omicron variant among travelers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria in the last week.
“Retrospective sequencing of the previously confirmed cases among travellers to Nigeria also identified the Omicron variant among the sample collected in October 2021.
“The two recent cases though asymptomatic have been linked to clinical care and other response activities which include contact tracing have commenced. Arrangements have been made to notify their country of origin to commence in-country response.
“According to preliminary findings in countries where this variant was earlier detected, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from other variants. However, it may be more transmissible. There is still a lot to learn about this variant, and we continue to be guided by scientific evidence.
“The NCDC assumes this variant is widespread globally with possible community transmission ongoing in Nigeria. Our focus remains to prioritise the genomic sequencing of recently accrued samples of SARS-COV-2 positive travellers from all countries, especially those from countries that have reported the Omicron variant already.
“Since the emergence of the Omicron variant in some parts of the world, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) through NCDC with the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has intensified public health response measures to COVID-19 in Nigeria based on the assessment of the risk of spread of the virus.
“This includes the review of the national travel protocols by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC-COVID-19) has announced that travellers to Nigeria now must present a negative COVID-19 test result within 48hrs before boarding. We appeal to Nigerians to adhere strictly to these travel protocols to prevent a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country as we combat the pandemic and these emerging variants including the Delta variant.”
KanyiDaily recalls that the Canadian Government had announced that two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant were confirmed in persons who recently traveled from Nigeria.
The Indonesian Government also announced that it had banned travelers from Nigeria and seven other African countries to curb the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.