China COVID-19 surge: We are closely monitoring situation – NCDC assures Nigerians

China COVID-19 surge: We are closely monitoring situation – NCDC assures Nigerians

  • urges more emphasis on  vaccination, non-pharmaceutical intervention 

Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa

As COVID19 infections surge in China and countries around the world are announcing measures aimed at restricting the dreaded infection from spreading to them, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) says it is monitoring the situation but emphasized the need for vaccination and use of non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPIs) to keep the virus from the country.

A release signed by Dr. Ifedayo Ifedayo Adetifa, the NCDC’s  Director General, recently assured Nigerians that the Centre was gathering  surveillance data that might, if necessary,  result in implementing “a range of actions not limited to enhanced surveillance of travellers at airports.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had, after a review of the situation in China by its Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE), last week, urged all countries to continue to be vigilant, to monitor and report sequences, as well as to conduct independent and comparative analyses of the different Omicron sub-lineages, including on the severity of disease they cause.

Dr. Adetifa however disclosed that the NCDC-led COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is monitoring the COVID-19 trends in China, the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), South Africa, India, and other countries with a high volume of traffic to and from Nigeria.

 “This includes the resurgence of COVID-19 in China following the relaxation of the country’s zero-COVID policy, as well as significantly increased COVID-19 cases, admissions, and deaths in the UK and the USA over the past weeks driven in part by the usual winter exacerbations of respiratory illnesses,” he said.

The statement said the NCDC has continued to strengthen genomic surveillance of the COVID-19 virus in the country and informed that since the Omicron variant was detected  in 2021, non of the dominant sub-lineages elsewhere in the world  are either circulating in the country or associated with any increases in case numbers, admissions, or deaths.  

The Centre reiterated that severe disease, admissions and deaths from COVID-19, regardless of the different variants reported in all parts of the world, disproportionately affect the unvaccinated and those with established risk factors such as older people, people with co-morbidities and the immuno-compromised.

 “COVID-19 has and continues to follow a different epidemiological course in Nigeria and most of Africa. Other Omicron sub-lineages that were associated with increases in cases, admissions and deaths elsewhere did not cause the same in Nigeria as confirmed by our genomics surveillance. This is because the population is significantly protected from a combination of natural immunity and vaccination with vaccines with a high impact on hospitalisation, and deaths. ]

“In hindsight, country-targeted travel restrictions including requests for PCR-negative tests from incoming travellers had little or no effect on preventing global and national circulation of omicron since the emergence of this variant and its relatives with their shorter incubation period.

“The most important action for Nigerians to take is to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the vaccine is the most important intervention for preventing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death. Though the COVID-19 protocols and restrictions have been eased, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 are advised to continue to adhere to the recommended non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPIs) such as the use of face masks, good hand and respiratory hygiene and avoidance of crowded spaces,” the Centre urged.

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