The new COVID-19 variant known as Omicron has not been found in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.
Naija News reports that the NCDC made this known to Nigerians in a statement on Sunday signed by its Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.
Adetifa stated that the variant was first discovered in South Africa and the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases have been observed in the African country.
The NCDC boss submitted that the Nigerian government was monitoring emerging evidence on the new variant and had started mapping out ways to combat the outbreak in Nigeria.
Adetifa said the agency will continue to ensure daily review of surveillance data for public health decision making, appealing to all states to ensure that sample collection and testing are accessible.
He said the NCDC, through the National Reference Laboratory (NRL), will continue to coordinate genomic surveillance and other activities required for the detection of variants.
The NCDC boss disclosed that a number of cases have now been reported in the United Kingdom, Israel, Botswana, Hong Kong, Germany, Belgium, Italy and other European countries.
He said: “While this variant has so far NOT been detected in Nigeria, a number of cases have now been reported in the UK, Israel, Botswana, Hong Kong, Germany, Belgium, Italy and counting. However, no deaths have been attributed to this new variant yet.
“Given the high number of mutations present in the Omicron variant and the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases observed in South Africa, this virus is considered highly transmissible and may also present an increased risk of reinfection compared to other VOCs.
“This virus can still be detected with existing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. The WHO and researchers across the world are working at speed to gain an understanding of the likely impact of this variant on the severity of COVID-19 and on the potency of existing vaccines and therapeutics.”
The NCDC boss asked citizens to adhere to public health and social measures such as the wearing of face masks, hand washing, and physical distancing.
Adetifa also urged Nigerians to avoid travel to countries where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases or reported cases of the Omicron variant.
He said: “Avoid travel to countries where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases or reported cases of the Omicron variant.
“Avoid all non-essential travel both local and international. If you must travel, please adhere to travel protocols instituted by the PSC-COVID-19 which are in place to prevent the risk of importation of the virus or its variants to Nigeria.”
“The virus is more likely to spread where people gather and do not adhere to these measures.
“Therefore we appeal to business owners, religious leaders, and people in authority to take responsibility by ensuring people in their premises wear masks and adhere to physical distancing.
“We must do all we can to protect ourselves and our country.”
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