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World On High Alert As New Variant Spread To More Countries. List Here



New omicron variant: Brazil and Japan joined the rapidly widening circle of countries to report cases of the omicron variant, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm. The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute disclosed that patient samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23 were found to contain the variant. It was on Nov. 24 that South African authorities reported the existence of the highly mutated virus to the World Health Organization.Also Read – Weekly RT-PCR Mandatory For Unvaccinated Employees In Kerala. Details Here

That indicates omicron had a bigger head start in the Netherlands than previously believed. Together with the cases in Japan and Brazil, the finding illustrates the difficulty in containing the virus in an age of jet travel and economic globalization. And it left the world once again whipsawed between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come. Also Read – Omicron Variant: India Removes Bangladesh From List of ‘at-risk’ Countries | Details Here

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine. Also Read – Omicron Variant: Karnataka Makes RT-PCR Test Must For International Fliers | Full Guidelines Here   

Omicron outbreak: List of countries where new variant has been detected

  • Australia: 6 cases
  • Austria: 1 case
  • Brazil: 1 case
  • Belgium: 1 case
  • Botswana: 19 cases
  • Canada: 3 cases
  • Czech Republic: 1 case
  • Denmark: 2 cases
  • France: 1 case (on Reunion Island)
  • Germany: 4 cases
  • Hong Kong: 3 cases
  • Israel: 2 cases
  • Italy: 4 cases
  • Japan: 1 case
  • Netherlands: 14 cases
  • Portugal: 13 cases
  • South Africa: 77 cases
  • Spain: 1 case
  • Sweden: 1 case
  • United Kingdom: 14 cases

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, said much more will be known about omicron in the next several weeks, and “we’ll have a much better picture of what the challenge is ahead of us.”

In the meantime, a WHO official warned that given the growing number of omicron cases in South Africa and neighboring Botswana, parts of southern Africa could soon see infections skyrocket.

“There is a possibility that really we’re going to be seeing a serious doubling or tripling of the cases as we move along or as the week unfolds,” said Dr. Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, a WHO regional virologist.

Cases began to increase rapidly in mid-November in South Africa, which is now seeing nearly 3,000 confirmed new infections per day.

While the variant was first identified by South African researchers, it is unclear where and when it originated, information that could help shed light on how fast it spreads.

Previously, the Netherlands said it found the variant among passengers who came from South Africa on Friday, the same day the Dutch and other EU members began imposing flight bans and other restrictions on southern Africa. But the newly identified cases predate that.

NOS, the Netherlands’ public broadcaster, said that one of the two omicron samples came from a person who had been in southern Africa.

Many health officials tried to calm fears, insisting that vaccines remain the best defense and that the world must redouble its efforts to get the shots to every part of the globe.

Emer Cooke, chief of the European Medicines Agency, said that the 27-nation EU is well prepared for the variant and that the vaccine could be adapted for use against omicron within three or four months if necessary.

England reacted to the emerging threat by making face coverings mandatory again on public transportation and in stores, banks and hair salons. And one month ahead of Christmas, the head of Britain’s Health Security Agency urged people not to socialize if they don’t need to.

World markets seesawed on every piece of medical news, whether worrisome or reassuring. Stocks fell on Wall Street over virus fears as well as concerns about the Federal Reserve’s continued efforts to shore up the markets.

Some analysts think a serious economic downturn will probably be averted because many people have been vaccinated. But they also think a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, especially in tourism, has been dramatically delayed.

(With AP inputs)





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