After being first detected in South Africa on Thursday and creating tremors at the planetary level, the Omicron variant has already begun to spread everywhere.
Also read: Omicron variant found in UK
As the world began to close its doors to South Africa, potential cases were identified in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong. But potential infections with this new variant are now also being observed in Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.
About 60 passengers from Johannesburg also tested positive for COVID-19 in the Netherlands and are waiting for variant confirmation. According to White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauzi, the latter has probably already reached the United States.
Global markets fell for 48 hours, upset by the prospect of a strong resumption of the health crisis. Gasoline prices are likely to remain at the same level in the coming days.
Already in Canada?
In the opinion of many experts, Omicron, described as highly contagious and potentially causing re-infections, has already entered Canada and Quebec as well.
According to Lionel Berthaux, a virologist at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres (UQTR), “the arrival of this variant is absolutely inevitable.”
About 700 passengers who arrived in the country from South Africa in the past two weeks have been ordered to be self-isolated and tested. According to Christian Jacob, president of the Association des Microbiologists du Quebec (AMQ), it may be too late.
“This is not really a surprise. It has already spread to many countries since the variant was invented,” he stressed.
– In collaboration with QMI Agency
⁇ Nearly ten countries claim to have potential cases of new transformation
- Netherlands: 61 cases (Waiting for confirmation)
- UK: 2 cases
- Germany: 1 case
- Belgium: 1 case
- Czech Republic: 1 case
- Italy: 1 case
- Israel: 1 case
- Hong Kong: 6 cases
- Botswana: 59 cases
- South Africa: 59 cases
Reasons for concern
The large number of mutations of the omicron variant, which is more than thirty, is of concern to health officials. Most of these, however, have the potential to improve the variant’s ability to escape from its virus, infection and immune system.
Currently, the World Health Organization has indicated that these last two points are particularly high in Omicron compared to other variants. Reinfections have also already been observed.
“When I first read about this variant, I could not believe it. Thirty changes is too big, ”said Christian Jacob, president of the Association des Microbiologists du Quebec (AMQ).
He fears that this mutation could bypass the immunization provided by the vaccine, which is Quebec’s strength. Therefore the health system is under pressure again pending the arrival of the new vaccine.
But fear not
However, there is no need to worry, experts say, as it is not yet certain whether the vaccine will reduce its effectiveness. Moreover, it is also “unlikely” that the virus will mutate in all its aspects. So it is not because it is more contagious, it inevitably causes more severe symptoms.
And in case a new vaccine product is needed, its production can be done “very quickly,” Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said yesterday.
Another reassuring fact is that due to mutation it is easier to quickly detect omicran from other variants in the PCR test.
Many experts say that we can not overcome the epidemic until the entire planet is vaccinated in high proportions. However, in poor countries such as South Africa, only 24% of the population is fully vaccinated. When the vaccine is weak, the virus circulates more freely. This will increase his chances of transformation.
⁇ [Dans ces pays], There is a shortage of freezers and medical staff. The task is hard, but the vaccine campaign should be global, ”explained Lionel Bertoux, a virologist and UQTR expert.
Tourists are waiting
For their part, travel agencies indicate that they have a “stand-by” status among their customers. If no one cancels an already planned trip, many are questioning their agency about the measures in place. With the advent of the variant, many countries have partially closed their borders, while others have tightened their operations. In the United Kingdom, isolation is required upon arrival in the country pending PCR test results. “We have a slowdown in demand and people are looking forward to seeing what happens,” explained Nicole Saint-Hilare, owner of Club Voyages Beauport.
Another wasted Christmas side?
Since the end of October, the growth of new cases in Quebec has been steady. Yesterday, there were 1,171 new infections or more than 1,000 for the second day in a row. Adding to the fears about the Omicron variant, QMA President Christian Jacob hopes to find more relief in the coming weeks. On the contrary, he believes the holiday could be like last year. “If the curve starts to progress tremendously, we will not be able to do anything. The risk is to do nothing, ”he said.