The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) says it is monitoring the new subvariants of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, named EG.5 and BA.2.86.
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.
Although only one case of EG.5 has been identified in Africa, NCDC Director General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, disclosed that it has not been identified in Nigeria.
As of 7th August 2023, the virus has been reported in fifty-one (51) countries including China, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Spain, etc. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also classified EG.5 as a “variant of interest” (VOI) and conducted a risk assessment which found this new variant poses a low risk at the global level.
In a statement on Saturday, NCDC maintained that its COVID-19 Technical Working Group (COVID-19 TWG) is closely monitoring COVID-19 epidemiology at local, regional, continental, and global levels including emerging variants.
“Our influenza sentinel surveillance sites 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 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 health agency added that it continues to monitor situations around the globe, especially in countries where the new variant has been confirmed, and keep Nigerians updated as may be required with scientifically sound and evidence-based information on any changes in SARS-COV-2 epidemiology and genomics that may threaten public health.
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