The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said it is monitoring the new EG.5 and BA.2.86 subvariants of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The NCDC in a statement issued on Saturday also said the subvariants have not yet been identified in the country.
It confirmed that the new variants have already been reported 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 United Kingdom (UK) had on Friday announced the detection of its first case of the new COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86.
It said the case was confirmed in an individual with no recent travel history, which suggests a degree of community transmission within the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US health authorities had, on Thursday, said they were closely monitoring a new variant of COVID-19, although the potential impact of BA.2.86 is currently unknown.
WHO designated the COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 as a ‘variant under monitoring’ due to the large number of mutations it carries.
Nigeria and the UK record a high volume of travellers who shuttle between both countries regularly.
However, the Port Health Services (PHS) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, said it has taken proactive measures to prevent importation of the new COVID-19 variant into the country.
As of 26 August, Nigeria has recorded a total of 266,675 cases and 3,155 deaths across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Symptoms similar to other variants
The NCDC explained that the EG.5 variant has not been associated with any change in symptoms or clinical manifestation.
It said the variant has not produced an increase in severity of illness and hospitalisation or difference in death rates in reporting countries.
“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,” it said.
For the BA.2.86, NCDC said it does not have enough information to make conclusive assessments of virulence, transmission, and severity since there are few cases identified so far.
The disease control centre noted that its COVID-19 Technical Working Group is monitoring COVID-19 epidemiology – local, regional, continental, and global – including emerging variants.
It said the NCDC influenza sentinel surveillance sites continue to provide information on COVID-19 prevalence in patients with influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness.
The NCDC said “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 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.”