Our land soaked in blood, gloom, South-East Bishops wail

*As NCDC focuses on completing sequencing of recently accrued samples of SARS-COV-2 positive travelers 

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-STRONG indications have emerged that more cases of Omicron variant may be detected in Nigeria soon besides the two already detected by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC ad announced early Wednesday morning.

Already,the NCDC has said it was focused on completing sequencing of recently accrued samples of SARS-COV-2 positive travelers from all countries, especially those from countries that have reported the Omicron variant already. 


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Two cases already detected in the country were from travelers who arrived from South Africa where the disease is believed to have emanated from.

“Samples obtained for the stipulated day two test for all travelers to Nigeria were positive for this variant in three 

persons with history of travel to South Africa,”NCDC had said.

With the announcement of two cases in the country, question has emerged as to what happens to the third person whose samples equally showed positive to the variant.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,NCDC, conducts case and genomic surveillance for inbound international travelers arriving in the country at its National Reference Laboratory,NRL, Abuja and network of other testing laboratories.

” Sequencing of samples 

from COVID-19 positive inbound travelers is currently conducted in laboratories with sequencing capacity in the country and all the sequencing data are shared in publicly accessible databases,”the agency had said in a statement. 

According to NCDC,”This 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 travelers to Nigeria were positive for this variant in three 

persons with history of travel to South Africa. 

“These cases were recent arrivals in the 

country in the past week. Follow up to ensure isolation, linkage to clinical care, contact tracing and other relevant response activities have commenced,”the health agency had said.

It explained that,” Arrangements are also 

being made to notify country where travel originated according to the provisions of the International Health Regulations.”

“The NCDC assumes Omicron is widespread globally given the increasing number of countries reporting this variant. Therefore, it is a matter of when, not if, we will identify more cases.

 “We continue to expand our sequencing capacity in-country at the NCDC-NRL, 

through our network of public health laboratories and other partners.

“Our focus is to complete sequencing of recently accrued samples of SARS-COV-2 positive travelers from 

all countries, especially those from countries that have reported the Omicron variant already,” a statement to this effect,signed by the NCDC Director General,Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, had said.

The statement said:”Since reports of the emergence of this Omicron variant, the Federal Ministry of Health through the NCDC has intensified public health response measures to COVID-19 in Nigeria.”

“The national travel advisory has also been revised by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and now requires all inbound travelers to Nigeria present a negative COVID-19 test result done not more than 48hrs before departure.

 “Pre-booking and payment for all day 2 and day 7 COVID-19 PCR tests are prerequisites for travel,”it added.

Besides,the agency 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.”

“We appeal to Nigerians to adhere strictly to these travel protocols and other public safety measures to protect themselves, families, friends, 

the community at large and to prevent a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country as we combat the pandemic and these emerging variants including the Delta variant,”it said.

Following the new development,the NCDC has made recommendations to the states to help curb community transmission of the disease.

“Recommendations for states 

given the risk of increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is essential to curb community transmission. The NCDC recommends that states ensure sample collection and testing remain widely accessible, so that people who have symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case get tested quickly in healthcare and other settings.

” This can be achieved 

through increased COVID-19 testing using approved antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests 

(RDTs) that are being rolled out by the NCDC and partners as well as PCR-tests where applicable. Vaccination also reduces community transmission and States should effectively 

implement ongoing mass vaccination campaigns and encourage citizens to make use of every available opportunity to get vaccination,”it said.

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