Monday, January 24

Omicron cases now spread from the US to South Korea

The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has now been detected in countries from the US to South Korea, underscoring the difficulties of reducing new contagious strains.

Most infections come from travelers who carry the disease across borders. Israel, for example, said a confirmed case arriving from Malawi traveled by bus from Tel Aviv. The first case from Italy traveled across the country for days before testing positive. The first case of omicron was confirmed in the United States in a person who returned from South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Researchers around the world are racing to understand the full impact of the new strain, and governments have banned travelers from South Africa and nearby countries for fear that omicron could evade vaccine protection and lead to new surges.

Here’s how far omicron has come:

South Africa The first samples of the PCR test showed that 90% of the 1,100 new cases reported midweek in the province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the variant. The daily number of new confirmed cases nearly doubled to 8,561 infections, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.
Botswana At least 19 cases detected
United Kingdom Five cases, the last two cases are not connected to each other and are not related to the three previous confirmed infections linked to travel in South Africa.
Germany Two cases in travelers arriving at Munich airport from South Africa, AFP reported, citing regional officials.
Netherlands 13 cases detected among travelers from South Africa
Denmark Two cases in arrivals from South Africa
Belgium A case
Israel A confirmed case and other suspects, as of November 27.
Italy A case that moved across the country before testing positive
Czech Republic A case, according to local media
Austria A confirmed case in Tyrol of a person arriving from South Africa. Authorities review another 30 suspected cases
Switzerland Three cases. People are isolated
France Thirteen suspected cases, according to a government spokesperson
Portugal Preliminary evidence from 13 cases “strongly” suggests that they are all related to the omicron variant. One of the cases involves a person who had a recent trip to South Africa.
Spain One case, according to the Madrid Ministry of Health
Sweden One case, according to the country’s Public Health Agency.
Hong Kong SAR Four confirmed imported cases, two of them related to South Africa and the others to Nigeria
Australia Six cases in the state of New South Wales. The sixth case was a fully vaccinated traveler who had recently visited southern Africa, according to NSW Health.
Japan A confirmed patient, who returned from Namibia. A second case was registered in a person arriving from Peru
Canada Five cases, including a first case in Quebec that had traveled from Nigeria, according to Reuters, citing Ottawa Public Health
Brazil Two cases. Seen in samples from a married couple who had just arrived from South Africa
Norway Two confirmed cases in Oygarden Township. Both people had been traveling through South Africa.
Ireland A confirmed case in a person who traveled to a risk area
us A case detected in California in a traveler who returned from South Africa and was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC
South Korea Five confirmed cases, including a couple who returned from Nigeria and their contacts
United Arab Emirates A confirmed case
Saudi Arabia A confirmed case

© 2021 Bloomberg

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