NIGERIAN authorities on Wednesday confirmed three imported cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country, becoming the first west African nation so far to detect the variant of concern.
The three cases were recorded from individuals with travel history to South Africa in the past week, through genomic sequencing of positive cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a statement.
‘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 said. ‘These cases were recent arrivals in the country in the past week.’
The NCDC said it is following up to ensure isolation, linkage to clinical care, contact tracing, and other relevant response activities to curtail the spread of the new variant in the country.
‘Arrangements are also being made to notify country where travel originated, according to the provisions of the international health regulations,’ the NCDC said.
It warned that Nigeria could register high incidences of the new variant if preventive measures are neglected at airports and other points of entry in the country.
According to the NCDC, the most populous African nation’s multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Center, activated at Level 2, would continue to coordinate the national response activities.
Among measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, and particularly the new Omicron variant, the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 has revised its national travel advisory to require all inbound travellers to Nigeria to present a negative Covid-19 test result done not more than 48 hours before departure, the NCDC said.
Pre-booking and payment for all the day two and day seven Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are prerequisites for travel, it said.
All outbound passengers, regardless of the requirements of destination countries, are expected to present evidence of full vaccination or a negative Covid-19 PCR test done not later than 48 hours before departure, the NCDC said.
Nigeria has so far recorded 214,218 confirmed Covid-19 cases, after 105 additional cases reported on Tuesday.
The new infections were recorded in eight states and the federal capital territory.
The total number of discharged cases now stands at 207,304 nationwide, while the total fatality figure stands at 2,977.
A total of 3,479,682 blood samples had been tested since the pandemic began across the country in February 2020.