Medical Technology

Omicron Variant is Currently in Europe A Week Ago: Dutch Officials

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Dutch health officials claim that the Omicron variant circulated throughout Europe even before flights were banned on Wednesday, and before researchers from South Africa reported it on to the World Health Organization.

Two people who were tested positive for COVID-19 in the Netherlands more than a week ago were infected with the Omicron variant of the virus, the officials announced in a statement on Tuesday.

“We have discovered the Omicron coronavirus variant in two samples of test specimens that were taken on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23,” the Dutch health ministry told The New York Times. “It is not yet clear whether the individuals had also been to southern Africa.”

The two samples were collected by health officials from municipal services at testing facilities for public use according to the health ministry. They are now beginning contact tracer testing in these areas, and will look at older samples that have recently came back positive.

This is significant because it suggests that the Omicron variant was present in the country prior to being labeled as a “variant or a cause for concern” by the WHO and before 14 cases were identified on flights departing from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday according to the newspaper.

Lab tests identified several varieties of the Omicron variant that were found among passengers on those flights, Dutch officials said in the announcement.

The health ministry explained that this meant that individuals were infected in isolation from each other or from different sources and from different locations.

The health ministry stated that scientists aren’t sure where or when the Omicron variant was first discovered. So so far, the first sample of the variant was collected on November. 9 in South Africa.

Tuesday’s WHO warning against travel bans and other blanket measures that aren’t based on evidence was issued. It also stated that countries that report new variants, such as South Africa and Botswana with the Omicron variant, should not be penalized.

“We still have more questions than answers regarding the impact of Omicron on transmission, severity of disease, and effectiveness of therapeutics, tests, and vaccines,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director general of the WHO stated during a briefing on the Omicron variant.

“The global response should be calm, coordinated and coherent,” he said. “We must remember that we are already dealing a highly transmissible and dangerous variant — the Delta variant. This variant is the cause of nearly all instances worldwide.”

Sources

The New York Times The New York Times “Omicron was present in Europe before flights were restricted,” Dutch officials claim.

Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment “Omicron variant found in two test samples previously.”

World Health Organization: “WHO Director General’s Opening Remarks ” at the Member State Information Session about the Omicron variant SARS-CoV-2

Content Source: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/963855?src=rss

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