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NCDC says new COVID-19 variant has ‘not been identified in Nigeria’



The novel Omicron subvariants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, EG.5 and BA.2.86, have not yet been discovered in Nigeria, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

This was made known by the NCDC in a press release sent out on Saturday and signed by its Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified EG.5, a lineage descended from XBB.1.9.2, and its sub-lineages as a variation of interest on August 9, 2023.

The EG.5 is a sublineage of the omicron variant and has been detected in 51 countries, including China, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and Spain.

The risk assessment conducted by the WHO shows that the EG.5 variant poses a low risk at the global level.

In the statement, Adetifa said, “In addition, EG.5 has not been associated with any change in symptoms or a clinical manifestation and has not produced an increase in severity of illness and, or hospitalisations or difference in death rates in reporting countries.

“EG.5 causes symptoms like those seen with other COVID-19 variants, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and sore throat. So far, only one case of EG.5 has been seen in Africa, it has not been identified in Nigeria,” the statement read in part.

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The NCDC added that the recently detected BA.2.86 is a branch of the BA.2 sublineage of Omicron, which was previously discovered in Nigeria in 2022.

WHO designated the COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 as a ‘variant under monitoring’ due to the large number of mutations it carries.

The BA.2.86 variant has been reported in a handful of countries – the United Kingdom, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, and the United States.

“Since there are few cases identified so far, there is not enough information to make conclusive assessments of virulence, transmission, and severity. However, we do not expect it to be much different from other omicron descendants currently circulating. Although the ancestor, BA.2 has been previously found in Nigeria, no BA.2.86 variant has been identified in Nigeria,” the agency added.

“We continue to carry out genomics surveillance even with the low testing levels and encourage testing locations in states to ensure their positive samples are sent on to the NCDC for sequencing.

“Unrelated to the news of these emerging variants, the NCDC and partners are working on implementing an enhanced COVID-19 testing exercise in four states to obtain complementary and more detailed information about circulating variants in the country. In addition, COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits are being distributed for the purpose of improving bi-directional COVID-19 testing,” it said.

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