As of December 20, Nigeria had recorded 45 cases of the variant, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
In a statement on Thursday, the WHO said 30 African countries – and at least 142 worldwide – have detected the Omicron variant, while the Delta variant had been reported in 42 African nations.
According to the agency, as of January 11, there have been 10.2 million COVID cases in Africa, with Southern, East and Central Africa experiencing a drop in weekly infections.
The organisation, however, said North and West Africa are witnessing a rise in cases, with North Africa reporting a 121 percent increase in the past week, compared to the previous one.
“Across the continent, though deaths rose by 64% in the seven days ending on 9 January compared with the week before mainly due to infections among people at high-risk. Nonetheless, deaths in the fourth wave are lower than in the previous waves. Hospitalizations have remained low. In South Africa, for instance, around 9% of its over 5600 intensive care unit beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients,” the statement reads.
“In countries experiencing a surge in cases, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has become the dominant type. While it took around four weeks for the Delta variant to surpass the previously dominant Beta, Omicron outpaced Delta within two weeks in the worst-hit African countries.
“In West Africa, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, the number of Omicron sequences undertaken by countries including Cabo Verde, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, is growing.
“And Omicron is currently the dominant variant in both Cabo Verde and Nigeria.”
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said early indications suggest that Africa’s fourth wave has been steep and brief but no less destabilising.
“The crucial pandemic countermeasure badly needed in Africa still stands, and that is rapidly and significantly increasing COVID-19 vaccinations. The next wave might not be so forgiving,” she added.
“This year should mark a turning point in Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drive. With vast swaths of the population still unvaccinated, our chances of limiting the emergence and impact of deadly variants are frighteningly slim.
“We have the know-how and the tools and with a concerted push we can certainly tip the balance against the pandemic.”