December 8, 2023

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New COVID-19 variant responsible for increased cases in other countries is not in Nigeria – NCDC
January 5, 2023


The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the COVID-19 Omicron sub-lineages partly responsible for the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in China, the United States, and the United Kingdom have not yet been detected in Nigeria.


The NCDC disclosed this on Wednesday, Jan. 4, in an update on COVID-19 genomic surveillance signed by its Director General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa.


The report showed that the Omicron sub-lineage responsible for the rise in cases in China is BF.7 while XBB.1.5 is responsible for increased cases in US and UK.


Adetifa, however, said B.5.2.1 has been seen in Nigeria since July 2022.


He said: “The NCDC-led COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre is monitoring COVID-19 trends in China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and other countries with a high volume of traffic to and from Nigeria.


“This includes the resurgence of COVID-19 in China following the relaxation of the country’s zero-COVID policy, as well as significantly increased COVID-19 cases, admissions, and deaths in the UK and the USA over the past weeks driven in part by the usual winter exacerbations of respiratory illnesses.


“Before the recent case increase in China, the USA, the UK, and other countries, genomic surveillance has shown that the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant and its lineages continue to dominate in recorded infections worldwide.


“However, the rise in the new Omicron sub-lineages XBB.1.5 in the UK and the US, and BF.7 in China raises concern as it may spread faster than older Omicron sub-lineages (e.g., XBB or BQ) and that they are responsible in part for current increases in cases, hospitalisations, and deaths.


“However, the sub-lineage seen with cases in China, B.5.2.1, and BF.7 are responsible for the surge in China and do not appear to be increasing unusually in other countries.


“The NCDC continues to strengthen genomic surveillance of the COVID-19 virus in Nigeria. Since the detection of the Omicron variant in December 2021, its sub-lineage (BQ.1/BQ.1.1) has been dominant in Nigeria.


“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. BF.7 and XBB have also been circulating in South Africa since October 2022 but without any accompanying increase in cases, severe illness, or deaths.


“Regardless of COVID-19 variants in different parts of the world, severe disease, admissions, and deaths disproportionately affect the unvaccinated and those with established risk factors i.e., older people, people with co-morbidities, and the immunocompromised.


“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 interventions such as the use of face masks, good hand and respiratory hygiene and avoidance of crowded spaces.


“COVID-19 has and continues to follow a different epidemiological course in Nigeria and most of Africa.”


Adetifa added: “The NCDC will continue to pay close attention to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in other countries and gather additional surveillance data to inform actions.”