The world isolates southern Africa, where the new B.1.1.529 variant of SARS-CoV-2, called Omicron, has been detected, which the World Health Organization (WHO) judges “Worrying”. Many countries closed their borders to countries in this region on Friday, November 26. Travel restrictions apply to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and in some cases Malawi.
WHO estimates that it will be necessary ” a few weeks “ to understand the level of transmissibility and virulence of this variant. The effectiveness of vaccines against this mutant form of the virus is also still under investigation.
Two cases of Omicron variant contamination in the United Kingdom, which hardens its entry measures
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced to tighten entry measures in his country in order to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, two cases of which have been detected in the United Kingdom. Due to the new variant “We will ask anyone entering the UK to take a PCR test” two days after his arrival “And isolate herself until she has the result” Mr Johnson said at a press conference. So far, only antigen testing was requested two days after travelers arrived, and no isolation was required until results.
In the morning, the British Ministry of Health announced that the two cases identified ” are linked [entre eux] and a trip to southern Africa ”. One was detected in the city of Nottingham (center) and the other in Chelmsford (east London).
Cases detected elsewhere in Europe
L’Germany confirmed on Saturday evening to have detected its first two cases of contamination with the Omicron variant, in travelers arriving from South Africa at Munich airport (south). “Two suspected cases of the new variant of the coronavirus Omicron, classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, have been confirmed in Bavaria”the state health ministry said in a statement.
A first case of this variant was detected in Italy in a man from the region of Naples (south) returned from Mozambique, announced Saturday evening the Higher Institute of Health (ISS), which depends on the Italian government. Italy on Friday banned entry to its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa “during the last fourteen days”. In addition, all flights from this region are prohibited.
The Omicron variant a ” probably “ infected some of the 61 passengers from South Africa who tested positive for Covid-19 after their arrival on Friday in Netherlands, meanwhile announced the Dutch health authorities on Saturday evening. He will be “Definitively determined if the Omicron variant is involved” after new analyzes, the results of which should be known on Sunday, writes the National Institute of Public Health (RIVM) in a press release. Positive cases have been placed in quarantine.
Friday, the Belgium was the first European country to announce the presence of a case of this variant in an unvaccinated person who arrived on November 11 from Egypt via Turkey.
In France, isolation for contact cases, even vaccinated
In France, where no confirmed case of this variant has yet been announced, anyone « contact » of another positive test for the new variant Omicron will have to be isolated even if it is vaccinated, announced Saturday evening the ministry of health:
“Any person at risk of contact with a possible case or a confirmed case of variant B1.1.529, regardless of their vaccination status, should be considered as a high risk contact and should therefore be placed in quarantine. “
Currently in France, if a person is in contact with an infected person, they should only isolate themselves for seven days if they are not vaccinated or if their vaccination schedule is incomplete and / or if they are immunocompromised, according to the ‘Health Insurance.
Southern Africa more and more isolated, South Africa says it is “punished”
Brazil and Guatemala became the last countries on Friday to close their borders to southern Africa, after the detection of the Omicron variant. In Europe, Switzerland announced on Friday that it had banned flights from South Africa and neighboring countries. This will apply from Sunday in Russia, and Tuesday in Spain.
On Saturday, the South African government denounced in a statement the stigmatization of its country:
“This latest round of travel bans is tantamount to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and its ability to detect new variants more quickly. Scientific excellence should be applauded, not punished. “
Tourists rushed to Johannesburg airport, hoping to catch the last flights to states that have closed in that country. In front of airline counters, many of them cut their vacations short after the first announcements of suspension of flights abroad late Thursday.