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New COVID-19 variant raises fresh concerns, as NCDC allays Nigerians’ fears



The outbreak of a new COVID-19 variant XBB.1.5 named “Kraken” has induced concerns amongst the Nigerian populace.

These concerns are connected to a pronouncement by the World Health Organization (WHO) which noted that the new variant is the most transmissible sub-variant detected so far.

According to the WHO, the XBB.1.5 variant has already been identified in at least 30 countries including China and South Africa and is now dominant in the United States of America.

WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove,” XBB.1.5 is “the most transmissible sub-variant which has been detected yet.”

Nonetheless, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday, allayed the fears of Nigerians, disclosing that there are proactive measures being instituted in order to prevent an outbreak.

Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said that even though the Kraken sub-variant had not been detected in Nigeria, the country was alert.

READ ALSO:Nigeria on alert as COVID-19 cases rise in China, US

In providing an update on the nation’s COVID-19 genomic surveillance in Abuja, he stated that the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which is run by the NCDC, is keeping an eye on COVID-19 trends in China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and other nations with a lot of travel to and from Nigeria.

The emergence of the new Omicron sub-lineages XBB.1.5 in the US and the UK, and BF.7 in China, according to Adetifa, is concerning since they may spread more quickly than earlier Omicron sub-lineages and are partially to blame for the present rises in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

He said, “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. 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.

“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 intervention (NPIs) such as the use of face masks, good hand and respiratory hygiene and avoidance of crowded spaces.”

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