The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced that the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, is yet to be detected in Nigeria.

“While Omicron variant has so far not been detected in Nigeria, a number of cases have now been reported in the UK, Israel, Botswana, Hong Kong, Germany, Belgium, Italy and counting,” the NCDC Director-General, Ifedayo Adetifa, said in a statement on Monday.

“No death has been attributed to this new variant yet, but 126 genomes of this variant have been detected globally and published on GISAID, which is a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data.”

Adetifa added that the Ministry of Health and NCDC were aware of reports of this new COVID-19 variant – the B.1.1.529 lineage.

The variant has now been designated a variant of concern and named; Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Howbeit, we are monitoring emerging evidence on this new variant and its implication to inform Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” NCDC boss added.

“But given the high number of mutations present in this Omicron variant and the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases observed in South Africa, the virus is considered highly transmissible and may also present an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants of concern.”

The Nigerian government has enhanced surveillance at airports and other points of entry and mandated compulsory COVID-19 PCR testing at those places to ensure compliance with current travel guidance.

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