The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), says the Covid-19 Omicron sub-lineages partly responsible for the virus increase cases in China, the United States, and the United Kingdom, have not yet been detected in the country.
The NCDC stated this in an update on Covid-19 genomic surveillance signed by its Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.
The update showed that the Omicron sub-lineage responsible for the rise in cases in the US and UK is XBB.1.5; while BF.7 is responsible for the increased cases in China.
Adetifa, however, said, “B.5.2.1 has been seen in Nigeria since July, last year.”
He said Nigeria-targeted travel restrictions, including requests for PCR-negative tests from incoming travellers, had little or no effect on preventing global and national circulation of omicron since the emergence of the variant and its relatives with their shorter incubation period.
The statement reads in part: “So far, only one case of EG.5 has been seen in Africa, it has not been identified in Nigeria.
“The recently discovered/reported BA.2.86 is a descendent lineage of BA.2 (a sublineage of Omicron, also found in Nigeria in 2022). As of August 23, 2023, the BA.2.86 variant had been reported in a handful of countries – the United Kingdom, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, and the United States.
“It has been classified by the WHO as a “variant under monitoring” (VUM) because it has multiple genetic differences that make it substantially different from its ancestor, BA.2 and from other currently circulating XBB-derived SARS-CoV-2 variants.
“Since there are few cases identified so far, there is not enough information to make conclusive assessments of virulence, transmission, and severity. However, we do not expect it to be much different from other omicron descendants currently circulating. Although the ancestor, BA.2 has been previously found in Nigeria, no BA.2.86 variant has been identified in Nigeria.
“The NCDC’s COVID-19 Technical Working Group (COVID-19 TWG) is closely monitoring COVID-19 epidemiology – local, regional, continental, and global – including emerging variants.
“Our influenza sentinel surveillance sites continue to provide information on COVID-19 prevalence in patients with influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness.
“We have not observed any increase in trend of COVID-19 in this patient group. We continue to carry out genomics surveillance even with the low testing levels and encourage testing locations in states to ensure their positive samples are sent on to the NCDC for sequencing.
“Unrelated to the news of these emerging variants, the NCDC and partners are working on implementing an enhanced COVID-19 testing exercise in four states to obtain complementary and more detailed information about circulating variants in the country. In addition, COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits are being distributed for the purpose of improving bi-directional COVID-19 testing.
“There is no need to cause unnecessary anxiety and panic. As we have consistently advised, COVID-19 is here to stay and is now mainly a problem for those at high risk – the elderly, those with underlying chronic illnesses especially hypertension, diabetes, those on cancer treatment, organ transplant recipients and those whose immune systems are suppressed for one reason or the other.”
Actions that “individuals and families need to take in preventing the infection include testing for any febrile illness and respiratory symptoms regardless of how mild to be sure it’s not COVID, vaccination against COVID-19, good hand hygiene by washing hands regularly with soap under running water and wearing of masks by individuals with flu like symptoms like coughing and sneezing”.