No need to panic over new COVID variants, NCDC assures Nigerians


The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says there is
no need to panic over new COVID-19 variants.


In a statement on Saturday, the agency said it is monitoring
the new subvariants of the Omicron variant named EG.5 and BA.2.86.


The agency said the EG.5 variant is a descendant of
XBB.1.9.2 which is itself a descendant of Omicron.


NCDC said the variant has been reported in 51 countries
including China, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada,
Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Spain.


 “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,” the statement


“So far, only one case of EG.5 has been seen in Africa, it
has not been identified in Nigeria.


“The recently discovered/reported BA.2.86 is a descendent
lineage of BA.2 (a sublineage of Omicron, also found in Nigeria in 2022).


 “As of August 23,
2023, the BA.2.86 variant had been reported in a handful of countries — the
United Kingdom, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, and the United States.


“It has been classified by the WHO as a ‘variant under
monitoring’ (VUM).


“Since there are few cases identified so far, there is not
enough information to make conclusive assessments of virulence, transmission,
and severity.


“However, we do not expect it to be much different from
other Omicron descendants currently circulating.”


The NCDC said although the ancestor BA.2 had been previously
found in Nigeria, no BA.2.86 variant has been identified in the country.


“We have not observed any increase in trend of COVID-19 in
this patient group,” the statement reads.


“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.


“We urge fellow citizens including media practitioners to
act responsibly and share only verified information. There is no need to cause
unnecessary anxiety and panic.”


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