The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC has today disclosed that Nigeria is yet to record the new strain of the coronavirus outbreak following the new outbreak in China and the United state that is threatening other nations.
There has been a surge of a new strain called, COVID-19 Omicron sub-linages, especially in China where some Nations across the globe have stepped up their test on arrival, especially for visitors coming from China. In an update on COVID-19 geometric and surveillance signed by the Director General of the Centre, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, NCDC said Nigeria has been on the lookout for the disease but is yet to record one.
According to the update from the centre, the Omnicron sub-linage is responsible for the surge in cases in countries like the United States while the XBB.1.5 is responsible in and UK and the variant BF.7 is responsible for the raising cases in China.
Adetifa further explained that B.5.2.1 has been here in Nigeria since July last year, 2022.
Explaining further, he revealed the countries involved are now demanding PCR-negative tests from incoming travellers as the threat is 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.
In his statement made available to newsmen, he said, “The NCDC-led COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre is monitoring COVID-19 trends in China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and other countries with a high volume of traffic to and from Nigeria. This includes the resurgence of COVID-19 in China following the relaxation of the country’s zero-COVID policy, as well as significantly increased COVID-19 cases, admissions, and deaths in the UK and the USA over the past weeks driven in part by the usual winter exacerbations of respiratory illnesses.
“Before the recent case increase in China, the USA, the UK, and other countries, genomic surveillance has shown that the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant and its lineages continue to dominate in recorded infections worldwide. However, the rise in the new Omicron sub-lineages XBB.1.5 in the UK and the US, and BF.7 in China raises concern as it may spread faster than older Omicron sub-lineages (e.g., XBB or BQ) and that they are responsible in part for current increases in cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. However, the sub-lineage seen with cases in China, B.5.2.1, and BF.7 are responsible for the surge in China and do not appear to be increasing unusually in other countries.
He added, “The NCDC continues to strengthen genomic surveillance of the COVID-19 virus in Nigeria. Since the detection of the Omicron variant in December 2021, its sub-lineage (BQ.1/BQ.1.1) has been dominant in Nigeria. None of these dominant sub-lineages in Nigeria that are also circulating elsewhere has been associated with any increases in case numbers, admissions, or deaths locally.
Adetifa further explained that “The sub-lineages partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in other countries i.e., XBB.1.5 and BF.7 have not yet been detected in the country but B.5.2.1 has been seen here since July 2022 and the others are most likely here already. BF.7 and XBB have also been circulating in South Africa since October 2022 but without any accompanying increase in cases, severe illness, or deaths.
“Regardless of COVID-19 variants in different parts of the world, severe disease, admissions, and deaths disproportionately affect the unvaccinated and those with established risk factors i.e., older people, people with co-morbidities, and the immunocompromised. The most important action for Nigerians to take is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the vaccine is the most important intervention for preventing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death.
“Though the COVID-19 protocols and restrictions have been eased, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 are advised to continue to adhere to the recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the use of face masks, good hand and respiratory hygiene and avoidance of crowded spaces.
“COVID-19 has and continues to follow a different epidemiological course in Nigeria and most of Africa. Other Omicron sub-lineages that were associated with increases in cases, admissions and deaths elsewhere did not cause the same in Nigeria as confirmed by our genomics surveillance.
“This is because the population is significantly protected from a combination of natural immunity and vaccination with vaccines with a high impact on hospitalisation, and deaths. In hindsight, country-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 this variant and its relatives with their shorter incubation period.
Meanwhile, “The NCDC will continue to pay close attention to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in other countries and gather additional surveillance data to inform actions. We are reviewing the situation again this week. At this next review and if deemed necessary, a range of actions, not limited to enhanced surveillance of travellers at airports, may be decided on and implemented.”