The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the first cases of the Omicron variant in the country.
The agency stated this in a statement on Wednesday morning signed by its Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.
Last Friday, November 26, 2021, WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).
The decision was based on the evidence presented to the advisory group that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, "for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes".
NCDC had warned Nigerians to avoid visiting countries where cases have been reported including South Africa, Botswana, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
However, recently, Canada said it discovered two cases of Omicron from two passengers from Nigeria.
In its statement on Wednesday, the NCDC said it had discovered two cases of the Omicron variant linked to passengers from South Africa.
It said, “In line with the routine travel tests required of all international travellers and genomic sequencing at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control through its National Reference Laboratory, Abuja, confirms Nigeria’s first case of the Omicron variant. Genomic sequencing of positive cases from routine day two testing for travellers to Nigeria identified two cases of Omicron variant among travellers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria last week.
“Retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases among travellers to Nigeria also identified the Omicron variant among samples collected in October 2021."
The NCDC added that it had begun contact tracing even though the two passengers were asymptomatic (of a condition or a person producing or showing no symptoms).