The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed its first case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant in Nigeria.
The NCDC disclosed this on Wednesday morning in a statement confirming the detection of the variant also known as the B.1.1.529 lineage.
The agency revealed the samples obtained for the stipulated day-2 test for all travellers to Nigeria were positive for this variant in three persons with a history of travel to South Africa.
The NCDC said, “Sequencing of samples from COVID-19 positive inbound travellers is currently conducted in laboratories with sequencing capacity in the country and all the sequencing data are shared in publicly accessible databases.”
It added that the 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 as 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,” it said.
The NCDC added that it 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,” the NCDC added.
The health agency warned that “Given the risk of increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is essential to curb community transmission and recommends that States ensure sample collection and testing remain widely accessible, so that people who have symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case get tested quickly in healthcare and other settings, through increased COVID-19 testing using approved antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) that are being rolled out by the NCDC and partners as well as PCR-tests where applicable and Vaccination which also reduces community transmission and States should effectively implement ongoing mass vaccination campaigns and encourage citizens to make use of every available opportunity to get vaccination.”