COVID-19: Nigeria confirms first cases of Omicron variant
Post created on December 1, 2021
Nigeria has confirmed its first cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant as countries tightened restrictions on international travel in an attempt to slow its spread.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said two cases of the new mutation were detected among two travellers who arrived from South Africa last week.
This was contained in a press release issued by the centre and signed by the Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.
It was earlier reported that the Omicron variant, a new strain of the coronavirus disease, was reported by South Africa and first detected in Botswana.
Following the discovery, countries such as the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Israel among others placed travel bans on southern African countries.
The statement reads in part, “In line with the routine travel tests required of all international travellers, genomic sequencing at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control through its National Reference Laboratory, Abuja, confirms Nigeria’s first case of the Omicron variant.
The announcement came as Ugur Sahin, the CEO of COVID-19 vaccine-maker BioNTech, said that while the Omicron variant could lead to more vaccinated people becoming infected, they would likely remain protected against severe illness.
Meanwhile, a panel of US health advisers narrowly backed a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck which could lead to authorisation later this week.
Scientists have been scrambling to learn more about the effects of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa last week.
It remains unclear where or when the variant first emerged. But nations have rushed to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors coming from Southern Africa, despite the World Health Organization’s call for “rational” measures in response to the new strain.