- Experts advice have continued to follow the recent discovery of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa
- While the World Health Organisation has named the new variant, Omicron, governments of nations have been urged to take swift measures in preventing the spread of the disease
- Following this, health experts in Nigeria have called on the federal government to put strict travel measures for travellers from South Africa over the recent discovery
The Nigerian government has been advised to ban travellers from South Africa following the recent discovery of a new variant of the deadly B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19 in the country.
The Punch reports that virologists across Nigeria urged the government to take immediate action towards its emergency response on the new disease variant named Omicron by the World Health Organisation.
Speaking on the recent discovery, the chairman of the expert review committee on COVID-19, Professor Oyewale Tomori condemned the delay by the presidential steering committee on COVID-19 on addressing issues that may arise from the new variant.
The PSC on COVID-19 had said that the federal government would monitor trends on the disease before taking any necessary decisions.
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For Tomori, any further delay by the federal government on the recent discovery in South Africa may lead to disaster.
He said the porosity of the Nigerian borders and poorly guarded entry points among many others is a challenge for the country.
“Given our state of performance, it will probably take months after the new variant case has arrived in Nigeria before we detect it."
"By then, it would have spread all over the country so why should we not put them on alert?"
Tomori further said the PSC should be kept running for as long as the disease and its spread continues across the globe.
He also said that there is a need for improvement and upgrade of genetic sequencing in laboratories while the country's entry points are beefed up.
According to the professor, contact tracing and testing on arrival must be improved to ensure that there is no escape for the disease variant into Nigeria.
Also, speaking, a former national chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Professor Tanimola Akande, said FG including its emergency management teams and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should leverage on lessons learnt in the past.
According to Akande, every government is tirelessly working to ensure that the Omicron variant of the virus is not imported into their country.
He said he believes that the NCDC and other relevant agencies would come up with directives based on the pros and cons of travel bans.
“Measures taken by countries like UK, Italy and other European countries are country-specific. These countries are already battling with the heavy burden of the 4th COVID-19 wave. I, therefore, think these countries are taking positions that are to their own interest.”
Guardian had reported that the WHO identified a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron, and classified it a “variant of concern.”
WHO in its statement said the variant was first reported to the organisation from South Africa on November 24.
According to the WHO, the new disease variant has a large number of mutations which poses a concern with evidence of increased risk of reinfection as compared to other variants.
New COVID-19 variant announced in South Africa
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant was announced by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
The South Africa NICD made the announcement on Thursday, November 25, which led to the meeting of experts from WHO among others to assess the new variant.
The NICD said since its discovery, 22 positive cases of the strain had so far been detected in the country.
Civil servants mandated to get their vaccine jabs
Also, the federal government has announced a deadline for the vaccination of all civil servants across Nigeria.
FG in its announcement warned that all those who love their jobs must ensure they are vaccinated by Wednesday, December 1.
According to the FG, full vaccination or proof of registered vaccination or negative COVID-19 test will be the key requirement for accessing government offices across Nigeria.