Nigeria confirmed its first cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant as countries tightened restrictions on international travel in an attempt to slow its spread.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said two cases of the new mutation were detected among two travelers who arrived from South Africa last week.
The announcement came as Ugur Sahin, the CEO of COVID-19 vaccine-maker BioNTech, said that while the Omicron variant could lead to more vaccinated people becoming infected, they would likely remain protected against severe illness.
Meanwhile, a panel of US health advisers narrowly backed a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck which could lead to authorization later this week.
Scientists have been scrambling to learn more about the effects of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa last week.
It remains unclear where or when the variant first emerged. But nations have rushed to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors coming from Southern Africa, despite the World Health Organization’s call for “rational” measures in response to the new strain.