The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced the detection of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.
According to a statement by Ifedayo Adetifa, the NCDC director-general, the variant was detected in two Nigerians who arrived in the country last week.
The agency, however, said the two cases are asymptomatic, and that contact tracing has begun.
“In line with the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) through its National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Abuja -confirmed Nigeria’s first case of the Omicron variant, also known as the B.1.1.529 lineage,” the statement reads.
“Genomic sequencing of positive cases from routine day two test for all travelers to Nigeria identified two cases of Omicron variant among travelers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria in the last week.
“Retrospective sequencing of the previously confirmed cases among travellers to Nigeria also identified the Omicron variant among the sample collected in October 2021.
“The two recent cases though asymptomatic have been linked to clinical care and other response activities which include contact tracing have commenced. Arrangements have been made to notify their country of origin to commence in country response.”
In a subsequent statement, the NCDC said three cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have now been detected in the country.
“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. Samples obtained for the stipulated day two test for all travellers to Nigeria were positive for this variant in three persons with a history of travel to South Africa,” the statement reads.
The index case of Omicron was detected in South Africa last Tuesday, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) had subsequently designated Omicron as a “variant of concern”, calling on global leaders to take action to contain its spread.
The variant has already been detected in many countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong.
On Sunday, Canada has reported two cases of Omicron in individuals who had recently travelled to Nigeria.