The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has said there is no reason to panic about reports of the new EG.5 and BA.2.86 subvariants of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Naija News reports that NCDC, in a press statement issued on Saturday and signed by its Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said the deadly subvariants have not been identified in Nigeria.
Recall that on August 9, 2023, the World Health Organisation designated EG.5, a descendant lineage of XBB.1.9.2, and its sub-lineages as a variant of interest.
The omicron variant was detected in 51 countries, including China, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and Spain.
The risk assessment conducted by the WHO shows that the EG.5 variant poses a low risk at the global level and causes symptoms like those seen with other COVID-19 variants, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and sore throat.
WHO designated the COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 as a variant under monitoring due to its many mutations.
The BA.2.86 variant has been reported in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, and the United States.
However, the NCDC disclosed that the COVID-19 Technical Working Group is closely monitoring COVID-19 epidemiology local, regional, continental, and global epidemiology, including emerging variants.
It noted that there is no reason to cause unnecessary panic and anxiety, adding that NCDC and partners are working on implementing and enhancing COVID-19 testing exercises in four states to obtain more detailed information about the circulating variants in the country.
The statement reads, “Our influenza sentinel surveillance sites continue to provide information on COVID-19 prevalence in patients with influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness. We have not observed any increase in the trend of COVID-19 in this patient group.
“We continue to carry out genomics surveillance even with the low testing levels and encourage testing locations in states to ensure their positive samples are sent on to the NCDC for sequencing.
“Unrelated to the news of these emerging variants, the NCDC and partners are working on implementing an enhanced COVID-19 testing exercise in four states to obtain complementary and more detailed information about circulating variants in the country. In addition, COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits are being distributed for the purpose of improving bi-directional COVID-19 testing.
“There is no need to cause unnecessary anxiety and panic. As we have consistently advised, COVID-19 is here to stay, and is now mainly a problem for those at high risk – the elderly, those with underlying chronic illnesses, especially hypertension, and diabetes, those on cancer treatment, organ transplant recipients, and those whose immune systems are suppressed for one reason or the other”