The omikron type of coronavirus has now been definitively identified in the Netherlands. So far, 13 people have been infected with the variant that first appeared in South Africa, according to a research sample conducted by RIVM.
The health service examined some samples from people who tested positive and who arrived in Schiphol on Friday on two flights from South Africa. More people are likely to carry this new variant with them, and RIVM has not yet examined all samples.
Here’s what we know now about the omikron variant.
reported on Wednesday
Virologists in South Africa first reported the alternative to the World Health Organization (WHO) last Wednesday. At the time, the variant was still known by the scientific name: B.1.1.529.
On Friday, the World Health Organization gave the variable its own Greek letter, as had been the case with previous variants. In this case the fifteenth character: omikron.
In the past week, the number of positive tests in South Africa rose sharply, especially in Gauteng province. After sampling, it was shown that in 77 cases there was a new variant.
Omikron has since appeared in many countries. In addition to parts of South Africa and the Netherlands, the variant has already been found in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel and Australia.
The Netherlands tops the list of most cases
With the thirteen cases, the Netherlands is one of the countries where the variant is most often encountered. South Africa tops the list with the highest number of infections. In Botswana, where the variant was also one of the first, there were four confirmed cases on Friday. But it is assumed that the number of actual cases is higher.
It is not entirely clear how many infections were identified with the variant overall. Scientists estimate it in the thousands, according to the New York Times.
Distribution and effect of vaccines
According to RIVM, the variant appears to be spreading rapidly. Faster than other variants like delta. But it remains to be determined whether the new mutation is more pathogenic.
At the moment, it is also not clear what effect the existing vaccines have on the omicron. It is also not known how Omicron interacts with people who are already infected with the Coronavirus.
Call for testing
Explaining the detected infection, outgoing Health Minister De Jong did not rule out additional measures. It depends on how serious and how contagious the new form is, about which little is known so far.
De Jong said anyone who has visited South Africa in recent days is being urged to report to the GGD for examination. “If they test positive, we ask them to go into isolation.”
Minister De Jong said the quarantine obligation will be 100 per cent complied with:
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