Nigeria Confirms First Cases of Omicron Variant

Nigeria confirmed its first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant among two travellers who arrived from South Africa last week.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Wednesday that retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases among travellers to Nigeria had identified the variant among a sample collected

NCDC Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, stated this in a press statement issued on Wednesday. According to him, the health agency said the three cases of the variant were discovered through genomic sequencing, linking the cases to three passengers from South Africa.

“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,” the statement read.

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“Samples obtained for the stipulated day two test for all travellers to Nigeria were positive for this variant in three persons with a 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 country where travel originated according to the provisions of the International Health Regulations.”

NCDC said in a statement, “Given the highly likely increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is imperative to put in place measures to curb community transmission,”

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The announcement by NCDC comes ahead of a meeting between South African President Cyril Rampahosa and his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja later on Wednesday, where the issue of the Omicron variant is likely to be discussed.

Several nations have imposed travel restrictions on countries in southern Africa, where the variant was first reported, which Ramaphosa says is unjustified and hurts developing nations.

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