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Nigeria, Ghana confirm Omicron variant cases

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Nigeria, Ghana confirm Omicron variant cases

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, confirmed its first cases of the new Covid-19 variant on Wednesday, saying it had been found among three passengers who had traveled to South Africa.

West African neighbor Ghana also said it had registered the new Omicron variant, tracing cases to Nigeria and South Africa.

Cases of Omicron have been detected in numerous countries since the strain was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in South Africa last week, prompting border closures and travel restrictions.

The Nigerian announcement came when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Abuja during a tour of West Africa calling for solidarity against “counterproductive” travel bans.

“Genomic surveillance has now identified and confirmed the first Nigerian cases of the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 lineage, now known as the Omicron variant,” said Ifedayo Adetifa, director of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control.

Contact tracing and “follow-up to ensure isolation … have begun,” Adetifa said.

“Omicron is very widespread globally … So it’s a question of when not, we will identify more cases,” he said.

Ghana’s Director General of Health Services Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said their cases had been detected at Accra International Airport, mainly originating from South Africa and Nigeria.

“The good thing is that in the community test conducted so far, we have not seen any Omicrons within the Ghanaian community,” he said at the launch of a vaccine campaign.

“But the danger is that if someone has the Omicron, and it’s hatching, they won’t find it at the airport.”

‘Unscientific prohibitions’
Speaking during a visit with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Ramaphosa again called on countries to lift “unscientific” flight bans.

“This is a global pandemic and overcoming it requires us to collaborate and work together as a collective,” he told reporters with Buhari by his side.

“The damage resulting from this travel ban to the economies of the affected countries will be considerable and lasting.”

France said on Wednesday it would begin allowing flights from southern Africa to land on its territory from Saturday, but with “drastic” restrictions that would only allow EU and French residents to disembark, along with diplomats and flight crews. .

Those travelers will need a Covid test upon arrival, and a negative result still requires a seven-day quarantine, while a positive test will require a 10-day quarantine, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed 2,976 people and infected 214,113 in Nigeria, according to official statistics, but the actual numbers are believed to be much higher, in part due to low testing rates.

Home to around 210 million people, the West African nation has launched vaccination drives and requires public officials to show shock proof or a negative test to enter public buildings.

But vaccination rates remain low, with just over 6.5 million people receiving one injection and around 3.5 million people receiving two injections.

The government said it plans to inoculate about 112 million people, representing 70 percent of the adult population, by the end of next year.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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