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The New Omicron Variant Puts the World in the Covid-19 Race Again

The world is in a “race against time” with the Omicron coronavirus variation, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who warned that scientists and manufacturers would require weeks to correctly grasp the new variant during a visit to Latvia on Sunday. According to the United Kingdom, an urgent conference of G7 health ministers will be scheduled on Monday as additional cases are detected and governments worldwide organize to respond to Omicron.

It also announced new domestic public health restrictions on Sunday, beginning this week, requiring face covers in stores and on public transportation. Scientists in South Africa were the first to discover Omicron, who voiced concerns about its exceptionally high number of mutations on Thursday. Since then, at least a dozen more people have tested positive for the new strain, with several more reporting possible cases.

The variant has been discovered in Botswana, Belgium, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and South Africa. After coming from South Africa, at least 13 persons tested positive at Amsterdam Schipol airport on Sunday, according to Dutch police. The variant was discovered through the sequencing of 61 positive Covid-19 samples received at the airport on Friday, according to the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

The organization stated that it is “possible that the novel variant will be detected in more test samples.” Professor Sheila Bird, a biostatistician, said the test results from Amsterdam were troubling, but that additional information was needed. For example, there could be household groupings among the 13 Omicron positives or clustering caused by passenger seating on the aircraft from South Africa.

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