The corona variant omikron has been confirmed in a number of countries over the weekend. Borders are closed, infection control measures are reintroduced. The EU boss calls it a battle against the clock.
The corona variant has not been detected in Norway so far, but the National Institute of Public Health says in one risk assessment that it may be it is here already.
Omikron has raised concerns about the global response to fighting the pandemics. Several countries have reintroduced infection control measures that they thought they had put behind them.
“We know we are in a battle against the clock,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday, pointing out that researchers and vaccine manufacturers need two to three weeks to get a full overview of the mutations, and – if necessary – modify the vaccine.
It is very important that we can buy from the population when they are vaccinated, use face masks, keep in touch with theirs.
Proven in the Netherlands
On Sunday, it was confirmed that the virus variant has been detected in 13 people in the Netherlands, and it may soon turn out to be more. Denmark has confirmed the case.
Germany also announced a new omicron case on Sunday, the day after the country confirmed the first two cases of the new variant. It has also been detected in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Italy.
The infection in the Netherlands was discovered when corona tests were taken from about 600 people who arrived on Friday in two planes from Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, respectively. 61 of these tested positive for corona and the analyzes of the samples continue.
Denmark is running out of time
In Denmark, the Statens Serum Institut has confirmed that people are infected with the omicron variant after traveling in South Africa.
Director Henrik Ullum writes that the positive test results were expected and that Denmark continues the strategy with extensive infection monitoring and tracking throughout the country.
– We want to extend the time so we have time to vaccinate as many as possible and get further through the winter before it really comes to Denmark, as we expect, says Ullum.
WHO: Increased rate for reinfection
A number of countries around the world have introduced entry restrictions from countries in southern Africa where the corona variant was first detected.
Nevertheless, there are many indications that the variant has already escaped and is spreading. Infection has also been confirmed in Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Australia.
Preliminary studies suggest that the omicron variant may increase the risk of reinfection, ie that people who have already had corona will get the virus again, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday. Men information is limited, the organization points out.
– More information about this will be available in the coming days and weeks, writes WHO in one update.
Not sure how the variant behaves
The Omikron variant appears to be the most contagious mutated virus variant to date, and thus it is expected that over time it will outcompete the delta variant. But according to the WHO’s update on Sunday, it is not clear whether omicron infects more easily or causes more serious diseases compared to other variants.
– Preliminary data suggest that there is a higher hospital admission rate in South Africa, but this may be due to an increase in the number of people who become infected, rather and a result of infection with omikron specifically, they write.
Asks for open borders
At the same time as many countries are closing borders for entry, or introducing quarantine obligations for travelers from South African countries, the WHO is requesting that the borders be kept open.
– Now that the omikron variant has been proven in several regions of the world, it is an attack on global solidarity to introduce travel restrictions that target Africa, says WHO’s Secretary General for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.
The new omikron variant has caused Norway and many other countries to close flights from South Africa and neighboring Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho and Eswatini.