Omicron: Reps urge COVID-19 Task Force, NCDC to intensify vigilance



The House of Representatives has urged the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to intensify surveillance in the country to prevent the spread of Omicron variant of the virus in the country.

The call was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Danchung Bagos (PDP-Plateau) at plenary on Tuesday.

Moving the motion, Dachubg said that the aim was to ensure that Nigerians continue to comply with all advisories aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19.

He said that on Nov. 26, a new variant of COVID-19 Omicron was discovered in South Africa.

“It spreads across the globe on Sunday, shutting borders and renewing curbs as the European Union chief said governments faced a race against time to understand.

“WHO designated the variant a concern and it 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,’’ he said.

The rep said that researchers in South Africa and around the world were conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and would continue to share the findings of their studies.

Dachung expressed concerned that Canada had on Sunday, detected its first case of Omicron strain of COVID in two people who had travelled recently to Nigeria.

“The government of Ontario confirmed that the two cases are in the Capital, Ottawa and also preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become re-infected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern.

“Concerned that 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 re-infection compared to other variant of concern,” he added.

The house urged NCDC to ensure intensive observation and check on travel protocols for inbound passengers.

The lawmakers also mandate NCDC to step up national response to control the emergence and spread of the new variant in order to spare Nigeria the full brunt of the third wave of the pandemic.

In his ruling, the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila mandated relevant committees of the house to ensure compliance.(NAN)