NIGERIA GETS OMICRONIZED
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.
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. 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.