June 5, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Suspected outbreak of the Omicron variant after a Christmas party in Norway

Suspected outbreak of the Omicron variant after a Christmas party in Norway

Norway re-introduced anti-Kovid health restrictions on Thursday in Oslo and its environs, following allegations that the Omicron variant had spread, which could affect up to half of the 120 guests at the Christmas dinner, although all were vaccinated.

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If a new variant is found in all diners tested positive for Kovid-19, it will be Omicron’s largest spread in Europe.

“The situation is alarming,” Norwegian Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol told a news conference a few hours later.

Not long ago, the municipality of Oslo confirmed that at this stage fifty people – between 50 and 60 – were identified as – according to officials – people infected with COVID after the Christmas meal. Restaurant in the capital on November 26.

About 120 guests were vaccinated and all self-tested before a dinner hosted by solar energy producer Skotech.

Health officials said they hope the variant will be found among other guests as sequencing work progresses.

“This indicates that the virus is highly contagious and that the vaccine is not well protected against contamination. We hope and believe that the vaccine will protect against severe forms of the disease, but it is not clear how much,” Ms. Kjerkol stressed.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the number of people suffering from this variant in the European Economic Area (European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) was 79 as of Thursday.

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In an effort to prevent the virus from spreading out of control, the Norwegian government imposed new sanctions on Oslo and its territory from midnight.

Among other measures, wearing a mask – until then only recommended nationally – is mandatory on public transportation, taxis, shopping malls, and stores within easy reach.

Telecommuting is also a rule where possible, the number of people at private indoor events is limited to 100, and customers of bars and restaurants must register and drink.

These regional responsibilities include national recommendations (distance, teleworking, etc.) and new rules for travelers: from midnight onwards, all people entering Norway must undergo a Kovid test upon their arrival or within 24 hours. .

Although the source of concern is associated with such feasts, it is a much-loved tradition among Norwegians, where alcohol often flows freely, which is not forbidden.

“I believe it’s up to everyone to judge it according to the rules, which emphasize the importance of keeping your distance and limiting physical proximity,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahar Store told a news conference at the same time.

With the emergence of the Omicron variant, Norway has already extended the isolation period to seven days for persons who have tested positive for this variant and increased the period of detention imposed on their relatives living under the same roof to ten days.

The Scandinavian nation, which has been noticing for some time the number of contaminants, hospitalizations and deaths due to Kovid, reported the first four cases of the Omicron variant on its soil on Wednesday. It has nothing to do with a Christmas dinner hosted by Skotech.

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The Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, is likely to become a majority in Europe “in the next few months,” the ECDC said on Thursday.