Nigerian scientists have identified the first case of the Omicron virus variant in the country, with at least one case occurring in October.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) of Nigeria said in a statement that two cases of this variant were identified among travelers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria last week.
Retroactive sequencing of previously confirmed cases among other travelers also identified mutations in the samples collected in October, officials said.
No other samples have been identified anywhere in the world, dating back to October.
Botswana and South Africa were the only African countries to confirm cases of Omicron by Wednesday when they announced cases in which Nigeria and Ghana were detected.
Omicron is a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus that causes COVID-19.
The first cases detected in Canada were both among individuals who recently traveled from Nigeria.
South African scientists first identified the variant and reported it to the World Health Organization on November 24. The World Health Organization has labeled and named it a variant of concern.
South Africa and Botswana say the sample dates back to early November.
Experts say that the number of mutations a variant has indicates that it is more contagious and can circumvent the protection that people enjoy from vaccines and previous infections, but still most of the strains. Also note that it is not known.
In recent years, countries around the world have curtailed travel from southern Africa. Since then, cases of Omicron have been seen in about 20 countries, including Canada, Israel and the Netherlands.
Dutch officials said the variant was found in samples on November 19th and 23rd, indicating that it was present in Europe earlier than some believed.
“It is not yet clear if these people have visited southern Africa,” the Dutch National Institute of Public Health said in a statement.
Preliminary findings from countries that previously identified cases of Omicron show that “there is insufficient evidence to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron differ from other variants,” NCDC Secretary said. Dr. Ifeda Joadetifa said in a statement. “But it may be more contagious.”
Adettifa said it was safe to think that the variant was “widespread worldwide.” “Therefore, it’s not about identifying more cases, but someday.”
Nigeria has updated its travel recommendations. All travelers wishing to enter the country must have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the plane. This is also subject to restrictions in other countries. Nigerians were encouraged to be vaccinated and to follow mitigation measures such as social distance and wearing masks.
South African doctors say the mutant has not yet caused more serious symptoms than those caused by other strains.
Dr. Mvuyisi Mzukwa, Vice President of the South African Medical Association, said on CNN’s “New Day” that “there is little to see other than what we saw in the Delta variant.”
Many patients do not require hospitalization, he added.