January 26, 2022

13 Omicron Instances Confirmed in Amsterdam, Israel Shuts Border

4 min read

13 of the 61 individuals who examined constructive for COVID-19 on two flights from South Africa to the Netherlands had been contaminated with the super-mutated Omicron variant that’s now popping up in international locations everywhere in the globe, officers revealed on Sunday.

Every passenger needed to both have a vaccine certificates or a unfavorable COVID-19 check earlier than boarding the KLM flights, that means both the vaccines didn’t cease an infection, the checks didn’t decide up the virus, or the virus wasn’t detectable on the time the checks had been carried out.

Those that examined constructive are confined to an airport lodge in Amsterdam, however the greater than 550 individuals who flew with them had been allowed to journey to their remaining locations after a unfavorable PCR check. Most of the passengers who had been on KLM connecting flights obtained reward baggage with glowing wine and an apology for the inconvenience.

The information of the constructive checks will solely add to the worldwide jitters over Omicronβ€”which has prompted international locations to ban sure flights, shaken the inventory market, and despatched scientists speeding to find all the things they will in regards to the new pressure.

Almost each nation in Europe now has not less than one suspected case with many confirming infections linked to journey to Africa. Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium and the Czech Republic have confirmed circumstances; A number of different international locations have recognized suspect circumstances. In Italy, a person who flew from Mozambique to Milan examined constructive on the airport on arrival, however his case was not confirmed as Omicron till he traveled south to his residence close to Naples. Well being authorities at the moment are scrambling to do contact tracing to find out whom he or his household might need been involved with.

The invention of the Omicron variant has sparked journey restrictions.

Hollie Adams/Getty

Australia has additionally confirmed its first circumstances of the variant. The U.Ok., not a part of the European Union, has not less than two confirmed circumstances, and can now require everybody to quarantine for not less than two days and take a PCR check upon arrival into the nation. The U.S. has not but confirmed a case however Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned it’s solely a matter of time, as officers banned flights from eight international locations. Israel, which has only one confirmed case, took the intense step of blocking all foreigners from coming into the nation for not less than two weeks.

β€œIt’s a brief and essential step,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned.

The world ought to have been prepared for Omicron. For months, well being specialists have warned that world vaccination is the one approach out of the pandemic, but simply 7 % of the African continent has obtained even a primary dose of any vaccine. When India was the epicenter of the pandemic on account of a delayed vaccine rollout which propagated the Delta variant among the many unvaccinated, everybody mentioned Africa can be subsequent. And it was.

Michael Head, a senior analysis fellow in world well being on the College of Southampton, advised CNN that variants like Delta and now Omicron are a β€œpure consequence of being too sluggish to vaccinate the world.” He mentioned, β€œWe nonetheless have massive unvaccinated populations, like we’ve throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and these are vulnerable to huge outbreaks.”

The worldwide strategy has been to simply shut off southern Africa even though the South African well being authority has mentioned not less than thus far the Omicron circumstances don’t appear to be any extra extreme than different variants. The president of Malawi mentioned Sunday that closing off a lot of Africa for being clear about contagion is nothing greater than β€œAfrophobia.” Writing on his Fb Web page, he mentioned the journey bans had been uncalled for. β€œCovid measures have to be primarily based on science, not Afrophobia.”

Researchers know that Omicron differs from earlier strains of COVID in that it has greater than 30 mutations to its spike proteinβ€”which is what permits it to bind to host cells. That raises the query of whether or not it’s extra transmissible; some specialists worry the reply is sure, as a result of the emergence of Omicron coincide with a sudden surge in new circumstances in South Africa.

One other huge query is how simply Omicron can subvert the vaccine and whether or not it might trigger extreme sickness or loss of life within the vaccinated. David Hui, a pandemic adviser in Hong Kong, mentioned it was present in two individuals who had been vaccinated with the Pfizer shot, however their signs had been very gentle.

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