The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NDCC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, has said the agency won’t recommend travel restrictions as Nigeria recorded its first case of the new strain of Covid-19, Omicron, Wednesday.
The NCDC boss said the commission would rather embark on a risk-based assessment, as well as surveillance of all travellers coming into the country.
The New Diplomat had reported that on Nov. 24, the new strain of COVID-19 was detected in South Africa. The virus has since spread to over a dozen countries.
On Wednesday, Nigeria recorded its first case in two Nigerians who arrived in the country last week from South Africa.
Speaking on the measures to contain the new strain, Adetifa said the NCDC will continue in enforcing the rules and regulations laid down for persons coming into the country.
According to him, all immigrants will now have to undergo two tests regardless of vaccination status.
The NCDC boss also added that samples will be drawn from all travellers coming into the country rather than focusing on travellers coming from the southern part of Africa. He explained that the decision to engage in the wide range surveillance is because the agency believes Omicron is fast spreading across the world.
Adetifa made this known while speaking with Arise TV on Wednesday, monitored by The New Diplomat.
In his words, “So, the updates today is correct as at the time that the press release was issued and it indicates in that press release that it will not be surprising if we find more cases as we continue to sequence all of the samples that continue to accrue and this is reflective of the situation worldwide. As you know, by the minute the number of countries that are importing this variant continues to increase.
“Now, in terms of the measures that we have in place, we continue to enhance surveillance as recommended at this time. Countries are required to conduct a risk based assessment of transmission and we are enhancing surveillance in terms of looking at travellers and likely importation of cases and ensuring that travellers adhere to all of the travel advisory regarding a two testing and disabled testing for the appropriate category.
“As you are aware, the PSE has changed the travel advisory, first of all to reduce the window within which PCR test needs to be done pre-departure. We have made the two tests compulsory for everybody regardless of vaccination status and in addition to the two testing those that are all vaccinated will have a disabled test.
“In addition, we are prioritising sequencing as recommended for all incoming travellers and we are not focusing on South Africa or Southern African countries that everybody seems to be attracted to. What we anticipate is that this variant is everywhere, so we will give the same attention to all travellers coming into the country and all samples that are positive for COVID.
“In addition, the treatment centres across the country are still there, oxygen plants, oxygen supply, to take care of any potential increase in case numbers requiring hospitalisation. This remains a theoretical risk, as we know from data everywhere else, especially in South Africa, that some people might be asymptomatic, we’ve not recorded any fatalities, but we continue to watch high risk groups or susceptible groups.”
Speaking on the two confirmed cases, Adetifa said the commission had embarked on contact tracing. He also disclosed that the two persons have been isolated and are receiving care.
He added, “For the specific cases that have been identified and will be identified, standard contact tracing, isolation testing, connection to care, and all of the other relevant measures as stipulated in the guidelines will continue to be implemented, that there is a new variant does not really change what we do, does not change the effectiveness of the public health measures, as recommended, it doesn’t change the requirement for vaccination or the benefits… of having proof of vaccination regardless of what the variant does.”