Nigeria records three cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant – NCDC

December 1, 2021
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Nigeria has joined the growing list of countries that have confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 variant called Omicron.

The Omicron variant was identified in three travellers from South Africa last week through genomic sequencing of positive samples by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had labelled the new variant a Variant of Concern (VOC) after it was seen to be more transmissible and an increased risk of re-infection.

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The Director General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo 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).

He also urged Nigerians to get vaccinated and adhere to the proven safety measures such as wearing face masks, regular hand washing and (or) sanitising with alcohol based sanitisers, and physical distancing.

He said: “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) conducts case and genomic surveillance for inbound international travelers arriving in the country at its National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Abuja and network of other testing laboratories. Sequencing of samples from COVID-19 positive inbound travelers is currently conducted in laboratories with sequencing capacity in the country and all the sequencing data are shared in publicly accessible databases.

“This genomic surveillance has now identified and confirmed Nigeria’s first cases of the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, now known as the Omicron variant. Samples obtained for the stipulated day two test for all travelers to Nigeria were positive for this variant in three persons with history of travel to South Africa.

“These cases were recent arrivals in the country in the past week. Follow up to ensure isolation, linkage to clinical care, contact tracing and other relevant response activities have commenced. Arrangements are also being made to notify the country where travel originated according to the provisions of the International Health Regulations.

“The NCDC assumes Omicron is widespread globally given the increasing number of countries reporting this variant. Therefore, it is a matter of when, not if, we will identify more cases. We continue to expand our sequencing capacity in-country at the NCDC-NRL, through our network of public health laboratories and other partners. Our focus is to complete sequencing of recently accrued samples of SARS-COV-2 positive travelers from all countries, especially those from countries that have reported the Omicron variant already.

“Since reports of the emergence of this Omicron variant, the Federal Ministry of Health through the NCDC has intensified public health response measures to COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“The national travel advisory has also been revised by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and now requires all inbound travelers to Nigeria present a negative COVID-19 test result done not more than 48 hours before departure.

“Pre-booking and payment for all day 2 and day 7 COVID-19 PCR tests are prerequisites for travel. In addition, all outbound passengers regardless of the requirements of destination countries are expected to present evidence of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test done not later than 48 hours before departure. We appeal to Nigerians to adhere strictly to these travel protocols and other public safety measures to protect themselves, families, friends, the community at large and to prevent a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country as we combat the pandemic and these emerging variants including the Delta variant.”

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