The Omicron coronavirus variant has already spread within the borders of the Netherlands, as one of the people who had previously contracted the variant – apart from the people who returned from South Africa infected – had not travelled.
On Tuesday, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) stated that analysis of their test samples showed that two people in the Netherlands who tested positive for Covid-19 on 19 and 23 November were carrying the Omicron variant.
One of those two people had “no travel history,” according to a spokesperson for the RIVM, and the other one had recently been in the south of Africa.
Last Friday (26 November), 624 people returning from South Africa were tested for the coronavirus upon arrival at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. Of them, 61 tested positive for Covid-19.
In total, the Omicron variant was found in 14 of those people, and laboratory tests identified several different strains of the variant, reports the RIVM. “This means that the people were very probably infected independently from each other, from different sources and in different locations.”
Belgium, the EU and the rest of the world
So far, the only detection of the variant in Belgium was in a sample taken on 22 November from a young woman who had returned from Egypt via Turkey 11 days earlier.
In the rest of the European Union, at least 44 people have already tested positive for the Omicron variant on Tuesday, stated the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in its most recent update on Tuesday 30 November.
In addition to Belgium and the Netherlands, the variant has also been detected in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, and in the French overseas department of Réunion.
“A number of probable cases have also been reported from across the region, but these are still under investigation,” stated the ECDC. “The majority of confirmed cases have a history of travel to African countries, with some having taken connecting flights at other destinations between Africa and Europe.”
According to the latest information, the people infected with the Omicron variant experienced mild or no symptoms. Additionally, no severe cases or deaths have been reported among these cases.
In addition to the cases in the EU, cases have been reported in nine other countries and territories, namely Australia, Botswana, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.