The World Health Organization on Friday classified the B.1.1.529 variant of SARS-CoV-2, which was recently discovered in South Africa, as “of concern” and warned that it could spread more quickly than other forms. Several countries have already announced or are considering banning flights to and from South Africa due to the discovery of the new alternative.
This news came after the meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The omicron variant is assigned the fifth that the World Health Organization has classified as ‘of concern’. volatile organic compounds (alternative to anxiety), due to the large number of mutations it presents.
The first sample with the omicron variant present was collected on November 9 in South Africa, the country that notified the World Health Organization on November 24.
Preliminary evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of reinfection and that there is an “adverse change in the epidemiology of COVID-19”. The World Health Organization said in a statement after the closed-door meeting of independent experts who reviewed the available data.
The World Health Organization said infections in South Africa have risen sharply in recent weeks, coinciding with the discovery of the variant now known as omicron.
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are worrisome. Preliminary evidence indicates an increased risk of reinfection with this type compared to the others”The United Nations health agency confirmed.
According to WHO experts, it was “detected at a faster rate than previous increases in infection, indicating that this variant may have a growth advantage.”
Current PCR tests continue to successfully detect this variant, they confirmed.
The World Health Organization confirmed the readiness of South Africa and Botswana, which immediately reported information about the result.
Likewise, he urged the international community not to discriminate against countries that share their information in a transparent manner.
Britain, France and Israel were the first governments to cancel direct flights to those African countries. Later, EU member states joined the measure, adding to the list Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The World Health Organization has advised countries not to rush to impose travel restrictions related to the covid-19 variant, noting that a “scientific and risk-based approach” must prevail.
“At this time, there is a warning against applying measures to travel (…) WHO recommends Countries should take a science-based, risk-based approach when implementing travel measuresWHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said during a United Nations press briefing in Geneva.
Global authorities have reacted with concern to the new variant discovered in South Africa, and European Union countries and the United Kingdom are among those that have tightened border controls, as scientists try to find out if the mutation is resistant to available vaccines.
It will take several weeks to determine the transmissibility of the new variant and the efficacy of vaccines and treatments against it.The expert said, specifying that so far 100 sequences of the variant have been notified.
“People should continue to wear masks whenever possible, avoid large gatherings, ventilate rooms and keep hands clean,” Lindmeier recommended.
Mike Ryan, director of emergencies for the World Health Organization, praised public health institutions in South Africa for an indication of the new variant, but cautioned that while some countries have systems in place to do so, the situation elsewhere is often unclear.
“So it is really important that there are no quick answers here. Especially with regards to South Africa. Because we have already seen in the past that the moment any kind of variables are mentioned, everyone closes the borders and restricts travel”As he claimed.
(With information from Reuters and UN News)
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