By Lara Adejoro
The presence of EG.5 or the sub-lineages of the coronavirus has been reported in Uganda, Egypt, Cape Verde, and South Africa, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.
On August 9, 2023, the World Health Organisation designated EG.5, a descendant lineage of XBB.1.9.2, and its sub-lineages as a variant of interest, following the recent increase in the number of E.G.5 cases reported.
In a statement obtained by our correspondent on Saturday, the Africa CDC said as of August 24, 2023, over 13000 sequences of E.G.5 have been reported from 59 countries in five regions globally – Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania have reported the presence of EG.5 or its sub-lineages.
The public health agency of the African Union said, “In Africa, four African Union Member States have reported the presence of this subvariant or its sub-lineages including, Uganda (2), Egypt (2), Cape Verde (1), and South Africa (1).
“In addition to the increase in the number of cases reported, there has also been a reported increase in hospitalisations in Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. EG.5 has also shown increased growth advantage, and immune escape properties. However, there is no evidence yet of an association between EG.5 and severity nor hospitalisation of COVID-19 cases.
“Africa CDC is therefore continuing to monitor this new variant in order to fully understand the pathogenicity and its impact on vaccine efficacy in Africa.”
The agency, however, urged AU Member States, including Nigeria, and other health authorities to accelerate the immunisation of high-risk populations, and strengthen sentinel surveillance system.
“COVID-19 vaccines remain a key tool to prevent severe cases and deaths from COVID-19 infection. AU Member States should accelerate the immunization of high-risk populations.
“Strengthen sentinel surveillance system to monitor trends and key indicators like hospitalization, severity, bed occupancy and test positivity.
“Reinforce timely genomic surveillance through coordination with national and regional pathogen genomics laboratories. The Africa CDC, through the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative, continues to support this coordination at the continental level,” the Africa CDC said.
It also urged AU Member States and other health authorities to conduct epidemiological investigations to assess the severity of the EG.5, the impact on healthcare system, and the effectiveness of public health interventions.
It urged “all AU Member States to continue timely sharing of data on emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants or subvariant with Africa CDC.
“As the risk associated with EG.5 remains low, Africa CDC will continue to monitor the situation and provide further guidance to AU Member States and the public, as more information becomes available about the EG.5 and other subvariants.”
Globally, there have been over 769,806,130 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 6,955,497 deaths, reported to the WHO, and a total of 13,499,865,692 vaccine doses have been administered.
In Nigeria, As of August 26, 2023, there are 266,675 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 3,567 active cases, 259,953 discharged cases, and 3,155 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.