The House of Representatives on Tuesday asked the Federal Government to urgently activate response measures against Omicron, the newest variant of the coronavirus, better known as COVID-19.
The fast-spreading Omicron variant, said to be deadlier than the earlier Delta variant, recently popped up in Southern Africa, particularly South Africa.
The variant has already entered Europe with the United Kingdom reporting at least two cases last week.
Canada over the weekend, detected three cases, which incidentally happened to be travellers who came from Nigeria.
On Tuesday, the House, which was presided over by the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the recent developments were signals that Nigeria must begin to take immediate steps to stem any resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country.
It called on the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to “step up national response mechanisms to stem the spread of COVID-19.”
The House also summoned the management of the agency to give an update on the control of COVID-19 in the country.
The resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by the lawmaker representing Jos-South/Jos-East Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Rep. Dachung Musa Bagos.
The lawmaker drew the attention of the House to the fact that Nigerians were frequent travellers and faced the risk of being denied access into other countries if the government didn’t step up the COVID-19 control measures.
For instance, he said the UK and a handful of other countries were beginning to draw up a list of travel restrictions.
Bagos added that the rest of the world was watching keenly and would be interested in knowing the new measures being introduced to check any medical emergencies like the Omicron variant.
“This new variant is even deadlier than the Delta variant.
“It is important that the executive activates response mechanisms to safeguard Nigerians.
“This is also because Nigerians travel a lot and the rest of the world is also interested in what happens in Nigeria”, he added.
Another member from Imo State, Rep. Henry Nwaoba, said Nigeria must do everything within reach to ensure that it did not enter the list of countries placed under travel restrictions by some nations already, due to the Omicron variant.
Nwaoba also recalled that emergencies such as the Omicron variant was the reason the House introduced the Infectious Diseases Control Bill in 2020 to give more powers to the NCDC on how to deploy urgent response measures.
However, he noted that the bill was greeted with controversies when some Nigerians misconstrued its intentions, resulting in the delay in passing the bill.
Nwaoba equally raised concerns that Nigerians had generally lowered their guard on safety and protective measures because of the thinking that Nigeria did not record many deaths from COVID-19 pandemic, compared to other countries.
“We can’t sit back and wait until Nigeria is placed on the list of countries with a travel restriction by the UK and other nations.
“In Canada today, there are three cases of Omicron traced to travellers from Nigeria”, he stated.
The motion was passed in a unanimous voice vote.