Omicron variant detected in the Netherlands prior to the South African report

Dutch health authorities said Tuesday that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was already present in the country on November 19, that is, before South Africa first reported the new variant.

The Institute of Health and Environment (RIVM) “detected the variant Omicron in two tests carried out in the country on November 19 and 23, “the health authority declared in a statement.

Until now it was thought that the first cases of Omicron in the Netherlands were the 14 positives who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday, November 26.

The two known infections on Tuesday therefore occurred before South Africa will inform the World Health Organization (WHO), on November 24, of the discovery of the new strain, called Omicron and considered “worrisome”.

“It is not yet clear that the infected have been in southern Africa,” said the RIVM, which informed those involved and added that municipal services are looking for possible contacts.

“Studies will be carried out to know the distribution of the variant Omicron in the Netherlands, “explained this institute, which will re-examine samples prior to the search for the strain.

With 16 confirmed cases, the country is one of those with the highest number of infected by Omicron in Europe.

The 14 cases that arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday are currently under quarantine.

The Netherlands thus joins other European countries, such as Belgium and Germany, which registered infections of Omicron before the official notification to the WHO on 24 November.

According to Aura Timen, director of the national coordination of the fight against infectious diseases of the RIVM, this situation will be repeated in other countries when they analyze the tests of the last weeks.

“We have the highest number because we tested two planes, I don’t know what would happen if other countries did the same, they would probably have the same result,” he added.

“When a new variant appears and is announced, it is likely that it is already widespread throughout the world,” he said.


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