Update on Omicron variant of COVID19 in Britain- 29Nov2021
Omicron poses ‘very high’ global risk
The new variant poses a “very high” global risk, the World Health Organization said in a technical brief on how to prepare for Omicron.
The WHO said Omicron variant had 60 high number of mutations, some of them concerning and pointing to “immune escape potential and higher transmissibility.” That means it is uncertain if the current COVID-19 vaccines will work against it and that the variant has the potential to spread faster.
Experts in South Africa said the variant was likely behind a “rapid rise in cases” in the last two weeks in the country but that it was too early to tell if the variant was more severe.
WHO urged all countries to “ensure mitigation plans are in place to maintain essential health services” in case of a potential hospitalisation surge due to Omicron variant.
The first case of Omicron was detected in South Africa on November 9. South Africa’s health minister Dr Joe Phaahla condemned recent travel bans as “counterproductive” given that many countries have now reported Omicron variant.
UK imposes new travel curbs
The UK announced that a third case of Omicron was detected on Sunday.
The country had initially reported two confirmed cases of Omicron that Health Secretary Sajid Javid said were “linked and there is a connection with travel to southern Africa.”
The infections of the Omicron variant, which preliminary evidence suggests might be highly transmissible and more resistant to current treatment, including vaccines, prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten UK entry requirements.
“We’re not going to stop people travelling but will require anyone who enter the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result,” Johnson said during a press conference on Saturday afternoon.
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