NEWS

NCDC Monitors New COVID-19 Subvariants, Prepares Testing In 4 States

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has stated that it is closely observing the latest subvariants of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which have been named EG.5 and BA.2.86.

In an announcement made on Saturday, the health authority mentioned that its COVID-19 Technical Working Group has been diligently keeping track of newly emerging variants on both local and global scales.

“Our influenza sentinel surveillance sites continue to provide information on COVID-19 prevalence in patients with influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness,” the statement partly read.

“We have not observed any increase in 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. In addition, COVID-19 rapid diagnostic kits are being distributed for the purpose of improving bi-directional COVID-19 testing.”

The agency emphasized that the preventive measures remain unchanged, including practicing good hand hygiene, getting tested, getting vaccinated, and using masks.

“There is no need to cause unnecessary anxiety and panic. As we have consistently advised, COVID-19 is here to stay and is now mainly a problem for those at high risk – the elderly, those with underlying chronic illnesses especially hypertension, diabetes, those on cancer treatment, organ transplant recipients and those whose immune systems are suppressed for one reason or the other,” the statement added.

The EG.5 subvariant has been detected 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.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized EG.5 as a “variant of interest” (VOI) and conducted a risk assessment, concluding that this new variant presents a low global-level risk.

EG.5 exhibits symptoms similar to those associated with other COVID-19 variants, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and sore throat.

Africa has reported only one case of EG.5 thus far, with no reported instances in Nigeria. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has clarified that while BA.2 has been previously identified in Nigeria, the BA.2.86 variant has not been detected in the country.

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