By NewsDesk @bactiman63
In a follow-up on the flood on news concerning the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, seen recently in South Africa and other countries, the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) has advised the World Health Organization (WHO) that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a Variant of Concern (VOC), named Omicron.
WHO reports the B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to them from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
While little is known about the variant at this time, this variant does have a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.
They advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.
WHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://t.co/bSbVas9yds pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 26, 2021
Countries are asked to do the following:
- enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
- submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
- report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
- where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.
Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.
- Hong Kong starts strict quarantine requirements for travelers from eight southern African countries
- Finland advises avoiding all travel to southern Africa
- Philippines bans flights from South Africa, others, due to B.1.1.1529 coronavirus variant
- Canada: Tuberculosis outbreak declared in Nunavut
- Fiji: 2 measles cases reported in Serua province
- Israel reports South Africa variant B.1.1.529, PM says country ‘on verge of COVID-19 emergency’
- Salmonella alert issued in Salta, Argentina