Cases of the new variant of the omicron coronavirus are confirmed in other European countries – they have already been detected in the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain. The first photo of the new variant was taken in Rome. The presence of the omicron in the Czech Republic is checked by the sanitary services.
The new variant of the coronavirus omicron has been confirmed with 95% certainty in several travelers who flew to Amsterdam from South Africa on Friday, the Dutch National Institute of Public Health (RIVM) reported on Saturday evening. According to RIVM, contamination with the new variant was “almost certainly” found in a few infected passengers. It is not clear how many people are involved.
Infection in South African passengers in the Netherlands
It is known that the coronavirus infection was found in 61 of the 600 passengers who flew in on two KLM flights from South Africa to the Netherlands. All were quarantined in a hotel near Schiphol Airport.
Information on the final test results will be announced on Sunday.
On Friday, the Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced a flight ban from southern African countries. The reason is precisely the omicron. The restrictions became effective immediately. The landing ban applies to flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Omikron in Great Britain
– I was contacted by the Health Safety Agency last night to inform me about the discovery of two cases in the UK variant of the omicron British Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Saturday. The patients and those living with them were asked to self-isolate, while further research is underway and the list of people they came into contact with, the ministry said.
The UK government on Thursday evening decided to close the borders to non-nationals arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will be added to the list on Sunday. British citizens arriving from there will be required to undergo a 10-day quarantine at a hotel designated by the government.
Omikron in Germany
A new variant of the coronavirus – omicron – has also reached Germany. The first two cases of infection with the new variant in Germany were confirmed in Munich. Both travelers arrived in the country on November 24 by plane from South Africa, Bavaria Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) informed on Saturday evening. These people have been in home quarantine since November 25 after receiving a positive PCR test result, informs the RND portal.
According to the daily “Die Welt”, also in Hesse a case is being investigated in which the infection with the new variant is also suspected. It is about a person who has returned from South Africa – Kai Klose, the minister of social affairs of this land, wrote on Twitter. “Please, protect yourself and your loved ones” – appealed the politician from Hesse. Anyone who has returned to Germany from South Africa in the past week, he added, should limit contacts and submit to tests.
A case study is ongoing, the exact results are expected to be known on Monday. It is known that a South African flight passenger arrived in Germany at Frankfurt am Main airport on November 21. “The person was fully vaccinated. Symptoms started within a week, then the test was performed,” the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs informed on Saturday.
Due to the suspicion of the appearance of an omicron in Hesse, the head of the region’s government Tobias Hans spoke in favor of calling a conference of prime ministers of federal states as soon as possible. – Again, we will face the “zero hour” in the fight against the pandemic. The emergency situation in the country requires all federal states, as well as the outgoing and new federal governments, to join ranks. Every day counts – emphasized Hans on Saturday. – National measures are needed quickly to stop this. Vaccination bottlenecks must be eliminated. (…) Dentists, vets and pharmacies should also be involved in the vaccination campaign, he added.
The first photo of the new variant
Also in Italy, the first case of infection with the new variant of the coronavirus omicron was identified on Saturday. It was detected in a patient from the Campania region in the south of the country. The infected is doing well, and so is his family, according to medical authorities, quoted by the Ansa agency.
As explained, the infected came from Mozambique.
A new variant of the coronavirus was photographed for the first time at the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome. The group of local researchers was announced on Saturday. The mutant variant of the virus was photographed by a team of scientists led by Professor Carlo Federico Perno in collaboration with Professor Claudia Alteri from the University of Milan. One photo shows the protein spike structure of the virus in the Omikron variant and the other in the Delta, which compares with the spike of the first version of SARS-CoV-2.
As the researchers explained, the omicron has many more mutations than Delta, which has already been very mutated. In the case of the new variant, these mutations are concentrated in the zone that interacts with the human cell. The researchers explained that significant differences in the image of the virus do not automatically mean that the variant is more dangerous, but that it has adapted even more to the human body. – Further research will show us whether this adaptation is neutral, more or less dangerous – emphasized, quoted by the Ansa agency.
On Friday, the Italian Ministry of Health introduced a travel ban from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Eswatini. This ban applies to people who have stayed in these countries in the last 14 days. Across Italy, there have been orders to strengthen airport controls for those arriving from Africa. It was in the south of the continent that a new variant was identified.
Czech Republic: sanitary services check the suspicion of a omicron
One of the laboratories in the Czech Republic is also checking the possibility of a new variant of the coronavirus – omicron – appearing in this country. The suspect sample was detected with the PCR test, the spokeswoman of the State Institute of Health (SZU) Sztiepan Czechova said on Saturday.
“According to our information, the person in question stated that they had been in Namibia before returning to the Czech Republic,” Chechova told CTK. According to Prime Minister Andrej Babisz, it is a woman who came to the Czech Republic from Namibia via South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. On social media, Babisz wrote that all her contacts are being established and that she herself is in isolation.
Due to the emergence of a new, aggressive variant of the coronavirus, the government adopted new travel regulations on Friday. He dissuaded the Czechs from traveling to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. It also prohibits entry to the Czech Republic for persons who have stayed in these countries for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days. Citizens of the Czech Republic can return to the country, but they are quarantined and must be tested.
The new variant of the coronavirus is worrying
The WHO on Friday described the new coronavirus variant detected in South African countries as “worrying”. The variety known so far as B.1.1.529 received the name of the Greek letter omicron.
When analyzing a new variant of the coronavirus on Friday, WHO specialists identified it as highly contagious. The previous coronavirus variant in this category was the delta variant that is now dominant in the world.
The WHO reported that globally, slightly less than 100 cases of the omicron variant have been reported so far, mainly in South Africa and Botswana. AFP writes that this variant was also discovered in Malawi, Israel, in a person who came from Malawi, Hong Kong and Belgium.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / LAURENS BOSCH