Nigerian Government Confirms First Case Of New Omicron Coronavirus Variant
The Nigerian government on Wednesday confirmed the country’s first cases of Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant, among two passengers who had arrived from South Africa last week, reported The Punch.
“Genomic surveillance has now identified and confirmed Nigeria’s first cases of the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, now known as the Omicron variant,” said Ifedayo Adetifa, the head of Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Adetifa said the authorities have already begun contact tracing to ensure isolation of the people who came in contact with the coronavirus positive patients who were asymptomatic.
“Omicron is widespread globally… Therefore, it is a matter of when, not if, we will identify more cases,” he added.
In a statement, the NCDC said it is imperative to put measures in place to curb community transmission considering the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
The Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization in South Africa a week ago. The new coronavirus variant has already spread rapidly across the globe with borders shutting and dozens of countries rolling out travel restrictions. The Nigerian government has already reinforced some of its travel measures in a bid to control the spread of Omicron.
According to data released by the Nigerian government, the coronavirus outbreak has killed 2,976 people and infected 214,113 in the country so far. The real figures, however, are believed to be much higher, in part because of low testing rates.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has launched vaccination campaigns and made it mandatory for civil servants to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter public buildings.
The vaccination rates remain low in the West African nation, with just over 6.5 million people given one vaccine dose and about 3.5 million people given two vaccine doses.
The Nigerian government is aiming to inoculate 112 million or 70 percent of adults by the end of next year.