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New Covid variant Omicron first detected in Netherlands, a week before South Africa; Probe on spread underway

Amsterdam, Dec 01: Health authorities in Netherlands said that the new Covid-19 variant was present in the Netherlands a week earlier than previously believed and checks are underway to see how far it has spread. The RIVM National Health and Environment Institute said it “has found the corona variant Omicron in two test samples that had already been taken in the Netherlands… on November 19 and 23”.

Reuters reported that at least 14 people on flights from Johannesburg and Capetown arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Nov. 26 carrying the new variant, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said. “We have found the Omicron coronavirus variant in two test samples that were taken on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23,” the RIVM said. “It is not clear yet whether these people have visited Southern Africa.”
It was earlier reported that the new version was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa. The WHO stressed that while scientists are hunting evidence to better understand this variant, countries should accelerate vaccinations as quickly as possible. Despite the global worry, doctors in South Africa are reporting patients are suffering mostly mild symptoms so far. But they warn that it is early. Also, most of the new cases are in people in their 20s and 30s, who generally do not get as sick from COVID-19 as older patients.