By Asmau Ahmad
As the race to fight the Omicron variant is on, but a lot is still unknown about this new strain of coronaviru, health experts in Nigeria are analyzing the mutation’s elements as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), identified three of the variants on Wednesday.
The experts said researchers across the world were still trying to figure out, how transmissible is the variant, how resistant it is to vaccines and natural immunity, and how people would react it when infected.
Dr Folake Fadipe, a virologist said there was need for the NCDC to step up its surveillance of the Omicron variant by sequencing one in every 10 positive cases, which would be the right thing to do at the moment.
Fadipe noted that it was a formidable pathogen, noting that the omicron variant its an organism that was trying to survive and its finding every clever ways to do so.
She added that there was no need for Nigerians to panic about the Omicron variant since not much was yet known about it.
She, however said that Nigerians should continue to be concerned over the Delta variant, that is wildly known to be more transmissible and get vaccinated as quickly as they can.
Dr Gabriel Adakole, a Public Health expert, added that the government should try and slow down the Variant by testing on arrival, making used of Rapid Diagnostic Test(RTDs), noting that with this measures in place the Country would be able to best manage this variant.
“Essential travellers will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test in the 72 hours before their arrival.
They will also face quarantine and other regulations.
“All vaccinated overseas travellers should be required to complete a PCR test and self-isolate for 72 hours under tightened new precautionary measures, they should be monitored by Security Operatives.
We need to halt this virus and go back to our normal life, we have romance the virus for so long,” he added.
According to him, Anyone who has already arrived the Country, who has been in any of the nine African countries within the previous 14 days must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days. We need to keep our country safe.
Dr Mario Isah, an epidemiologist, said that the detection of the three Omicron variant should remind Nigerians that the COVID-19 was not over yet and their response needs to change as the virus changes.
Dr Isah noted that this was why NCDC should also take precaution and make changes to quarantine everyone coming into the country from today to keep Nigerians safe until the World know more about Omicron variant.
She alleged that in particular, Omicron variant was coming for unvaccinated people that have been infected with Alpha or Delta.
“They think they’re immune now, but Omicron will prove them wrong. I wonder what the mortality rate will be?
Get vaccinated, use top-quality masks “correctly” avoid anything indoors if humanly possible except your own home, advocate for good ventilation in public spaces and get vaccinated,” she advised.
She added that scientists around the world believes that the emerging Omicron variant, could be more infectious than the existing Delta variant of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the NCDC said that the three cases were recent arrivals in the country in the past week. Follow up to ensure isolation, linkage to clinical care, contact tracing and other relevant response activities have commenced.
The agency said arrangements were also being made to notify country where travel originated according to the provisions of the International Health Regulations.
“The NCDC assumes Omicron is widespread globally given the increasing number of countries reporting this variant.
“Therefore, it is a matter of when, not if, we will identify more cases. We continue to expand our sequencing capacity in-country at the NCDC-NRL, through our network of public health laboratories and other partners.
“Our focus is to complete sequencing of recently accrued samples of SARS-COV-2 positive travelers from all countries, especially those from countries that have reported the Omicron variant already,” the NCDC explained.