The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said it has confirmed the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in three more persons, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to six. However, despite the travel ban slammed on Nigeria by the United States and United Kingdom, the centre has said the Delta variant of the virus is more dominant in Nigeria than the Omicron variant, which has no proof of community transmission yet. A statement by Director- General, NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, on Tuesday revealed that all six persons confirmed with Omicron had a travel history to South Africa in November.
It said, “The NCDC has confirmed three more cases of COVID- 19 with the B.1.1.529 SARSCoV- 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).” The body promised continued coordination of genomic surveillance to sequence all positive COVID-19 samples from international travellers arriving in Nigeria, through its National Reference Laboratory (NRL).
It said, “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.
“In line with Article 44 of the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) reporting framework, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the NCDC has also been notified by the UK Government of seven cases of travellers from Nigeria with the Omicron variant. Given the reports of increasing numbers of Omicron cases in the UK, the NCDC is also prioritising the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples in trallers with history of travel to the UK. “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. “All viruses naturally mutate over time, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID19. 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.”