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Covid-19: Belgium, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Czech Republic … Europe confronted with the Omicron variant – LCI


Nov 27, 2021

HEALTH CRISIS – The Omicron variant, initially detected in South Africa, is already starting to spread in Europe. Several countries have recorded (or suspect) first cases.

A new variant which places Europe in turmoil. On Thursday, November 25, South Africa announced that it had detected a new mutation in the virus, which worries scientists for its potentially more transmissible and vaccine-resistant characteristics. Immediately, France and many of its neighbors suspended flights from several countries in southern Africa. With one objective: to limit the spread of this variant, called Omicron, on European territory. But preventing its arrival seems utopian, because it has already been spotted.

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Coronavirus: the pandemic that is shaking the planet

Belgium, the first European country affected

Omicron’s “patient zero” in Europe is well known. The day after the official discovery of the variant in South Africa, Belgium announced that it had recorded a first case of contamination. This is a person who was returning from a trip to Egypt, via Turkey. “We have a confirmed case of this variant”, announced the Belgian Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, Friday during a press conference.

According to the minister, this person in his thirties, unvaccinated, tested positive Monday, November 22 after mild symptoms. She had arrived in Belgium ten days earlier.

Two cases detected in UK

Belgium was not for long the only European country affected by the variant. Two cases of contamination have been detected in the UK in people “related to a trip to South Africa”, the ministry announced on Saturday

British Health. “The British Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that two cases of Covid-19 including mutations compatible with B.1.1.529 have been identified”, the ministry announced in a press release, specifying that the infected people and their families were isolating themselves.

Germany confirms two contaminations

This Saturday, Germany confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant. A few hours earlier, the regional authorities of the state of Hesse (west) had indicated that tests carried out on Friday evening at Frankfurt airport revealed “several mutations typical of Omicron”. “This person is in isolation at his home”, corn “the variant is, in all likelihood, already present in Germany”, tweeted Regional Minister of Social Affairs Kai Klose.

A case in Italy

Italian health authorities indicate late Saturday that a first case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the country. “The positive sample” was taken from a person “from Mozambique”, announces the Higher Institute of Health (ISS), specifying that “the patient and his family members are in good health”.

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Suspicion in the Czech Republic

Same situation in the Czech Republic, where a woman who had traveled to Namibia tested positive on her return. “She flew back to the Czech Republic via South Africa and Dubai”, said Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. “The woman was vaccinated, she has moderate symptoms and we will have the sequencing result tomorrow.”

The Netherlands faces a cluster of South African travelers

Further north, in the Netherlands, two flights from South Africa raise fears of a spread of the Omicron variant. Of the 592 passengers, 61 tested positive upon arrival in Amsterdam. Samples containing the virus will now be analyzed to find out if it is indeed the variant.

In the meantime, all the infected have been placed in quarantine in a hotel near Amsterdam-Schipol airport. Passengers who are negative but reside in the Netherlands must also self-isolate at their home.

And France?

For the moment, the Omicron variant does not appear in the radars of the country. According to Public Health France, “to date, this variant has not been detected on French territory”. But surveillance has been stepped up. “The Omicron variant can be suspected when the three mutations present in the current screening strategy are not found”, writes the health agency. “All of the sequencing results produced at the national level are monitored in real time.”

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