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Nigeria finds case of Omicron variant dating back to October | Coronavirus


The news, confirmed by a sequencing test, was reported on Wednesday by the director general of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Ifedayo Adetifa.

The NCDC has also confirmed that it has found two cases of the Omicron variant in travelers arriving last week from South Africa, where it is now the dominant strain.

The country of more than 200 million residents has thus become the first country in West Africa to report the presence of this new variant, which presents a very high risk globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Health authorities in Ghana, a country west of Nigeria, also reported the first cases of the variant hours later, but did not quantify them. These cases, detected in travelers arriving at Accra airport, were also confirmed by sequencing tests.

The CNDC announcement once again underscores that it will be nearly impossible to determine with certainty where this new variant has appeared.

The Omicron variant was reported to the WHO by South African researchers on November 24. According to the GISAID database, the first sample it was found in was actually taken on November 9 in South Africa.

Nigeria has so far recorded 214,113 cases of COVID-19 and 2,976 deaths. However, these figures are probably underestimated, as the number of tests carried out in the country remains very low.

The government recently launched a mass vaccination campaign in the country, but vaccination rates remain low; only 3.5 million people have indeed received two injections so far.

The government wants to vaccinate 112 million people by the end of next year, or 70% of the country’s adult population.

The announcement of the discovery of the Omicron variant comes the day South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, the first stop on a tour planned by the Head of State in West Africa.

According to the WHO, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus presents “a very high risk” on a global scale, and the likelihood [qu’il] spread globally is high.

The concern it has aroused has so far been mainly attributable to the fact that the Omicron variant has around 40 mutations, a very high number. Its contagiousness, its dangerousness and its capacity to resist vaccines are however unknown at this stage.

With information from Associated Press, France Media Agency, and New York Times

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