The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has allayed the fear that the new variant of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Nigeria.
It however said it was closely monitoring the monitoring the new EG.5 and BA.2.86 sub-variants of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The agency said in a statement Saturday that the new variants had already been reported in 51 countries including China, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, and Spain.
It explained that the case was confirmed in an individual with no recent travel history, which suggests a degree of community transmission within the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US health authorities had, on Thursday, said they were closely monitoring a new variant of COVID-19, although the potential impact of BA.2.86 is currently unknown.
WHO designated the COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 as a ‘variant under monitoring’ due to the large number of mutations it carries.
Nigeria and the UK record a high volume of travellers who shuttle between both countries regularly.
The NCDC explained that the EG.5 variant has not been associated with any change in symptoms or clinical manifestation.
It said the variant has not produced an increase in severity of illness and hospitalisation or difference in death rates in reporting countries.
“EG.5 causes symptoms like those seen with other COVID-19 variants, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and sore throat,” it said.
For the BA.2.86, NCDC said it does not have enough information to make conclusive assessments of virulence, transmission, and severity since there are few cases identified so far.
The agency further said its COVID-19 technical working group was monitoring COVID-19 epidemiology – local, regional, continental, and global – including emerging variants.
Besides, the statement said the NCDC influenza sentinel surveillance sites would continue to provide information on COVID-19 prevalence in patients with influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness.
“We have not observed any increase in the trend of COVID-19 in this patient group.
“We continue to carry out genomics surveillance even with the low testing levels and encourage testing locations in states to ensure their positive samples are sent on to the NCDC for sequencing.
“Unrelated to the news of these emerging variants, the NCDC and partners are working on implementing an enhanced COVID-19 testing exercise in four states to obtain complementary and more detailed information about circulating variants in the country,” it added.