THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed three additional cases of Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19.
There are now six Omicron cases confirmed in the country, following the initial three cases declared by the NCDC on December 1.
All the cases were detected in persons with travel history to South Africa last month, NCDC said in a statement mailed to The ICIR on Tuesday.
The centre said the Delta variant remained dominant in Nigeria, noting that it had not been replaced by the Omicron variant ‘as observed elsewhere.’
According to the organisation, there is no evidence of Nigeria’s generalised or community transmission of the Omicron variant.
In line with Article 44 of the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) reporting framework, the UK Government had notified Nigeria of seven cases of travellers from Nigeria with the Omicron variant.
The NCDC said it prioritised the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples in travellers with a history of travel to the UK, following the reports of increasing numbers of Omicron cases in the UK.
It added that all viruses naturally mutated over time, including SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19.
The NCDC noted that it continued to coordinate genomic surveillance activities to sequence all positive COVID-19 samples from international travellers arriving in Nigeria through the National Reference Laboratory (NRL).
This includes sequencing of positive samples from international travellers from October 2021 to when it released the statement.
The NCDC averred 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 induced by natural infection or vaccination.
“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 effective public health measures such as mask use, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and ensuring good ventilation.”
Meanwhile, the centre has reiterated the imperative of full compliance with the travel protocols provided by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19.
The NCDC said the protocols were mandatory for all international travellers arriving in Nigeria from any country.
It reminded that incoming travellers should ensure their day two and day seven tests were done as stipulated in the country’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 by the PSC-COVID-19,” it warned.
The emergence of Omicron has engendered international diplomatic row.
The restriction was extended to some African countries that recorded the new variant, including Nigeria.
Nigeria has described the travel ban as apartheid.
Leading global figures, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Adewumi Adesina, have condemned the ban.
As of December 7, Nigeria had recorded 214,789 cases of COVID-19. Only 4,331 of the cases were active. Discharged cases in the country stood at 207,478, while 2,980 people infected with the virus had died.