Nigeria said on Wednesday it had confirmed its first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, but amended its initial statement to say that the travelers had all arrived in Nigeria in the past week.
Initially the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases among travelers to Nigeria had identified the Omicron variant among a sample collected in October.
An amended statement from the NCDC did not mention the October sample and a spokesman said that sample contained the Delta variant, not Omicron.
First reported in southern Africa a week ago, Omicron has highlighted the disparity between massive vaccination pushes in rich nations and sparse inoculation in the developing world.
The NCDC also said in its amended statement that the Omicron COVID-19 variant was detected in “three persons with a history of travel to South Africa.” The initial statement said it was detected in two travelers who arrived from South Africa last week.
“Given the highly likely increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is imperative to put in place measures to curb community transmission,” the NCDC said.
Data from other countries already shows the variant was circulating before it was officially identified in southern Africa and it has since been detected in more than a dozen countries. Work to establish if it is more infectious, deadly or evades vaccines will take weeks.
The announcement by the NCDC came ahead of a meeting between South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja on Wednesday, when Omicron is likely to be discussed.
Several nations have imposed travel restrictions on countries in southern Africa, which Ramaphosa says is unjustified and hurts developing nations.
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