The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Sunday said it was monitoring emerging evidence on the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, which was first recently identified in Southern Africa.
The new variant “is considered highly transmissible” and has already triggered a new wave of travel restrictions targeted at countries in Southern Africa.
However, the NCDC in a statement signed by its Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said, “the fears about its ability to evade protective immune responses and/or its being vaccine-resistant are only theoretical so far.”
While noting that the “WHO and researchers across the world are working at speed to gain understanding of the likely impact of this variant on the severity of COVID-19 and on the potency of existing vaccines and therapeutics,” the NCDC urged Nigerians to take necessary precautions.
The disease control agency advised Nigerians to “make every use of the currently available opportunities to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”
It also reiterated the need for citizens to adhere to public health and social measures such as the wearing of face masks, hand washing, and physical distancing.
“Avoid travel to countries where there is a surge in COVID-19 cases or reported cases of the Omicron variant,” the NCDC said.
“Avoid all non-essential travel both local and international. If you must travel, please adhere to travel protocols instituted by the PSC-COVID-19 which are in place to prevent the risk of importation of the virus or its variants to Nigeria.”
“The virus is more likely to spread where people gather and do not adhere to these measures.
“Therefore we appeal to business owners, religious leaders, and people in authority to take responsibility by ensuring people in their premises wear masks and adhere to physical distancing.
“We must do all we can to protect ourselves and our country.”