World Alert as UK Report Cases of Omicron COVID Variant | Chicago News

People are lining up for an Air France flight to Paris on November 26, 2021 at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP Photo / Jerome Delay, File)

The UK became the latest country on Saturday, reporting cases of a new, potentially more contagious, Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Governments around the world have sought to strengthen their defenses by restricting travel from South African countries.

There is growing concern that pandemics and associated blockade restrictions will last much longer than expected, in the fear that new variants identified recently may be more resistant to the protection provided by the vaccine. ..

British Health Minister Sajid Javid confirmed that the two were positive for the Omicron variant in the southeastern town of Chelmsford and the central city of Nottingham. He said the incident was and was related to a trip from southern Africa.

Javid said the two confirmed cases were self-isolated with the household during contact tracing and targeted testing. He also added four countries to the national travel red list from Sunday: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Six locations were added on Friday: Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This means that anyone authorized to arrive from these destinations must be quarantined.

“This really reminds me that this pandemic isn’t over yet,” he said. “If you need to take further action, do so.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a media briefing late Saturday with his chief adviser.

Many countries have lifted restrictions in response to warnings about the transmission of new variants to various countries in southern Africa, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Thailand and the United States. .. World Health Organization advice. Pharmaceutical companies have shown optimism that vaccines can be refined to combat new variants, albeit obviously time consuming.

Despite the flight ban, there is growing concern that variants are already widely seeded around the world. Cases have been reported in travelers from Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, in addition to the United Kingdom. Germany also said it suspected a positive case, and Dutch officials were testing whether 61 people arriving on two flights with COVID-19 from South Africa had the Omicron variant.

The plane arrived in the Netherlands from Johannesburg and Cape Town shortly after the Dutch government banned flights from southern African countries. The 539 travelers who tested negative were allowed to return or continue their journey to another country. Those who live in the Netherlands and are allowed to return home under government regulations must be quarantined for at least 5 days.

Meanwhile, German officials said it was “very likely” that a variant of Omicron had already arrived in the country.

Kai Klose, the health minister of Hessen, including Frankfurt, said in a tweet that “some mutations typical of Omicron” were found in travelers returning from South Africa, who had been quarantined at home. The test ordering was not yet complete.

Global health agencies have named the new mutant Omicron and labeled it a strain of concern because of early evidence that it has a high number of mutations and is more infectious than other mutants. increase. This means that people who have recovered from COVID-19 may catch it again. It may take several weeks to find out if the current vaccine is ineffective against it.

The previous outbreaks of the pandemic are partially fueled by loose borders, as the uncertainty about Omicron variants is so high that scientists are unlikely to materialize the findings over the weeks. Knowing that countries around the world are taking a safety-first approach. policy.

Approximately two years have passed since the pandemic that claimed the lives of more than 5 million people around the world began, and countries are becoming more vigilant.

The rapid spread of the subspecies among South African adolescents surprised medical professionals, even though there were no immediate signs that the subspecies would cause more serious illness.

Many pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, said they have plans to adapt the vaccine in the light of the advent of Omicron. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they expect to be able to fine-tune the vaccine in about 100 days.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, expressed cautious optimism that existing vaccines may be effective in preventing serious illnesses caused by Omicron variants.

He said most of the mutations appear to be in areas similar to those of other varieties.

“It shows that despite these mutations present in other variants, the vaccine continues to prevent serious illness as it passes through alpha, beta, gamma and delta,” he said. Told BBC Radio. “There is optimism that the vaccine should still be effective against new variants of serious disease, at least from a speculative point of view, but in reality, wait a few weeks for it to be confirmed. is needed.”

“It is very unlikely that a pandemic restart will occur in the vaccinated population as we saw last year,” he added.

Some experts said the emergence of this variant indicates that vaccine storage by developed countries could prolong the pandemic.

In Africa, less than 6% of people are fully immunized to COVID-19, and millions of healthcare workers and vulnerable people have not yet received a single dose. These conditions accelerate the spread of the virus and increase the chances of it evolving into a dangerous variant.

“One of the key factors in the emergence of variants could be low vaccination rates in parts of the world. WHO requires us all to be safe and careful. Until then, we warn that no one is safe, “says Professor Peter Openshaw. Of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London.

World Alert as UK Report Cases of Omicron COVID Variant | Chicago News

Source link World Alert as UK Report Cases of Omicron COVID Variant | Chicago News

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