- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Nigeria on Wednesday said it found a coronavirus sample with the omicron variant from October, suggesting the strain was circulating far before it burst into view last week in a cluster within South Africa.

“Retrospective sequencing of the previously confirmed cases among travelers to Nigeria also identified the Omicron variant among the sample collected in October 2021,” the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said.

Nigeria said it detected two more cases in travelers who arrived last week from South Africa, which is still considered the epicenter of the variant with dozens of mutations that might allow it to spread faster or puncture the vaccines’ power to a degree.

“Given the highly likely increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is imperative to put in place measures to curb community transmission,” the NCDC said.

The discovery of older samples thickens the mystery around the variant. 

Dutch officials on Tuesday said they found samples of omicron from two weeks ago, or before South African scientists sounded the alarm over the Thanksgiving period.

While a few nations have banned foreign travel altogether, most of the travel restrictions imposed by nations impact southern Africa, prompting debate over whether they are punishing select countries for detecting the variant when it may be spreading in many corners of the globe.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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