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The latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, raises a global alert; this is what we know

The emergence of the latest coronavirus strain Omicron has put governments and companies around the world on high alert.

After Australia’s first case of Omicron strain was discovered, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he would review the country’s plan to reopen its borders to skilled immigrants and students on December 1.

Previously, the government had Announce From December 1st, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders will not need to apply for a travel exemption to enter Australia. This includes groups of technicians and students, as well as humanitarian, working holiday and temporary family visa holders.

According to the recommendations of the WHO Virus Evolution Technical Advisory Group, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated variant B.1.1.529 (named Omicron) as a “variant of concern”.

This decision is based on the evidence provided that Omicron has several mutations that may affect its behavior, such as the ease with which it spreads or the severity of the disease it causes.

according to WHO, The following is a summary of what is currently known:

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting research to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the results of these studies.

Transitivity: Although it is not clear whether Omicron is more contagious than other variants, including Delta, the number of people who have tested positive has increased in South Africa affected by this variant. Epidemiological studies are ongoing to understand if this is due to Omicron or other factors.

Severity of the disease: Preliminary data indicate that the hospitalization rate in South Africa is rising, but this may be due to the increase in the total number of infections, rather than the result of Omicron specific infections. Therefore, it is unclear whether Omicron infection will cause more serious disease than infection with other variants (including Delta).

Effectiveness of Omicron infection

Preliminary evidence suggests that compared with other variants of concern, Omicron may have an increased risk of re-infection, but information is limited. More information about this will be provided in the coming days and weeks.

Effectiveness of the vaccine: WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variation on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines. Vaccines remain critical to reducing serious illness and death, including targeting the major circulating variant Delta. Current vaccines are still effective against severe illness and death.

Validity of the current test: The widely used PCR test continues to detect infections, including Omicron infections, as we have seen in other variants. Research is ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.

Effectiveness of current treatment: Corticosteroids and IL6 receptor blockers are still effective in the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19. Given the changes in the viral part of the Omicron variant, other treatments will be evaluated to see if they are still effective.

Measures currently announced

The Australian government announced that it will implement additional border security measures as a precautionary measure to protect Australians from the new Omicron variant based on medical advice provided by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

  • Effective immediately, anyone who is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or his immediate family members, including parents of citizens, and anyone who has been to an African country where the Omicron variant has been discovered and spread in the past 14 days, will not be allowed to enter Australia .

These countries are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.

  • According to judicial arrangements, Australian citizens and permanent residents, immediate family members, including parents arriving from these countries, are required to undergo 14-day supervision and quarantine immediately.
  • Anyone who has arrived in Australia and has been to any of the nine countries in the past 14 days must immediately self-quarantine and be tested for COVID-19 and comply with jurisdictional quarantine requirements, which includes quarantine for 14 days from the date of departure From southern Africa.
  • These restrictions also apply to people arriving from the safe travel zones we have established with New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and the Republic of Korea, such as international students and skilled immigrants, who have been to any of the nine countries for 14 days in the past.
  • As a precaution, the government will suspend all flights from nine countries in Southern Africa for 14 days.

Urge Australians to obtain COVID-19 information from trusted sources, such as website.

Find more information about the Omicron (B.1.1.529) classification here

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