The variant which was first identified by scientists in South Africa on November 24, 2021, has been labelled a “variant of concern” (VOC) by the World Health Organisation. Just when it seemed like a semblance of normalcy was returning to the world after a gruelling battle with COVID-19, yet another variant of the virus simply known as Omicron has reared its head.

While further epidemiological studies are currently underway to better understand the virus, current findings have revealed that Omicron has several mutations that may greatly impact its spread and the severity of illness it causes.

The strain has been detected in at least 20 countries, including Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom and very recently, Nigeria as reported by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC). In its report, the organisation elaborated that the cases were recent arrivals in the country with a history of travel to South Africa in the past week. It stated that follow up to ensure isolation, linkage to clinical care, contact tracing and other relevant response activities have commenced.

Since the news of the outbreak, many countries, Nigeria inclusive, have reacted swiftly by placing a raft of travel restrictions and protocols. For all inbound travellers to Nigeria, it is mandatory to present a negative COVID-19 test result done not more than 48 hours before departure. Additionally, all outbound passengers regardless of the requirements of destination countries are expected to present evidence of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test done no later than 48 hours before departure.

While much remains unknown about the new variant, its transmissible nature is quite evident. Thus, the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), has urged Nigerians not to let their guard down in the fight against the virulent virus. There is a need to remain steadfast to the safety protocols which include wearing of face masks, maintaining social distance, frequent washing of hands and getting vaccinated.

No doubt, interrupting transmission of the Omicron virus remains our best defence against it and path to returning to normalcy and the COVID-19 vaccination plays a huge role in this regard as it helps reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus and prevents one from getting seriously ill even if they do get infected.

The organisation also appealed to those who are yet to take their second dose of the vaccine to do so in order to be fully immunised against the virus. CACOVID continues to support the NCDC in its cause to eradicate COVID-19 in all spheres of the country through the dissemination of helpful communication materials that’ll sensitise Nigerians against the virus as well as provision of equipment crucial to the fight.

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