The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed additional three cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the country.
NCDC’s Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said in a statement that the new cases brought to six the number of people infected by the variant and all the infected had history of travel to South Africa.
The Omicron variant was, first announced in Nigeria, on Dec. 1.
With the advent of the variant, more travel bans have been imposed across the world, including the one imposed on Nigeria by the United Kingdom.
Adetifa stated that the Delta variant remained the dominant variant and Nigeria had not witnessed a widespread of the Omicron variant as reported in some other countries.
He added that the Omicron variant was a source of global concern because of its increased risk of transmissibility and its potential to escape protective immune responses.
“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.
“In line with International Health Regulations (2005) reporting framework, Nigeria has been notified by the UK 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 those with history of travel to the UK.
“Viruses naturally mutate over time, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID- 19. 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 safety protocols,’’ he said.
“We expect any variant to be identified quickly; if it emerges anywhere, we are urging Nigerians to take known steps for curbing the spread of COVID-19, including vaccination and safety protocols,” Adetifa advised.
He added that compliance with the travel protocols provided by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 is mandatory for all international travellers arriving in Nigeria from any country.
“Incoming travellers should ensure their Day 2 and Day 7 tests are done as stipulated in Nigeria’s travel advisory.
“There will be consequences for defaulters which may include publication of their details, suspension of their passports and ban on travel to Nigeria,” Adetifa warned.