Omicron : Reps want urgent strategy to tackle new Covid-19 variant

The House of Rwpresentatives, has called for urgent strategy towards tackling the new Covid-19 variant, named Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The House in a resolution on Tuesday, therefore called on the Federal Ministry of Health, to mandate Nigeria’s COVID-19 Task Force to immediately activate strategies to be implemented in monitoring adherence to COVID-19 guidelines and ensure residents continue to comply with all advisories aimed at curtailing the spread of the disease.

It further called on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure intensive observation and check on travel protocols for inbound passengers, and also that the agency step up the national response to control the emergence and spread of new variants in order to spare Nigeria the full brunt of the third wave of the pandemic.

This came following a motion sponsored under matters of urgent public importance, by Hon. Dachung Bagos, who cited reports that on the 26th of November, 2021 a new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant named Omicron Variant was discovered in South Africa, and had spread across the globe on Sunday, shutting borders and renewing curbs as the EU chief said governments faced a “race against time” to understand.

“On 26 November 2021, WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).  This decision was based on the evidence presented to the TAG-VE that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes. Here is a summary of what is currently known”, the lawmaker noted.

According to him, researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available, and thus the need for Nigeria to take early steps.

“A total of 126 genomes of this variant have been detected globally and published on GISAID, a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data, and there seem to be a high number of mutations present in the Omicron variant and the exponential rise suggesting the virus to be highly transmissible and may also present an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variant of concern (VOC),” he further cited a report.

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