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Queensland detects new Omicron lineage

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AUSTRALIA: Australia’s Queensland State has found a new Omicron lineage in a traveller who arrived from South Africa, health authorities said on Wednesday.

The new lineage has about half the gene variations of the original and can’t be detected with typical screening, the state’s actingChief Health Officer Peter Aitken told reporters. It was found in a traveller who had arrived from South Africa and tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, he said.

The new lineage has enough markers “to be able to classify it as Omicron, but we don’t know enough about it as to what that means then as far as clinical severity, vaccine effectiveness”, Aitken said. “We now have Omicron and Omicron-like.”

The discovery comes as the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations and the number of patients needing hospitalisation is likely to rise as it spreads.

“Even if the severity is equal or potentially even lower than for Delta variant, it is expected that hospitalisations will increase if more people become infected and that there will be a time lag between an increase in the incidence of cases and an increase in the incidence of deaths,” the WHO, in its weekly epidemiological report, said.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tightened pandemic rules to curb the spread of the omicron variant, advising people to Work From Home (WFH) and mandating the use of so-called vaccine passports in large venues.

“It’s become increasingly clear that omicron is growing much faster than the previous delta variant,” Johnson said at a televised press conference on Wednesday, announcing the measures for England. It’s the “proportionate and responsible thing to do to move to Plan B,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Omicron COVID-19 variant, discovered two weeks ago in southern Africa, is now present in 50 countries, the US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said.

The super mutant strain of Covid is also present in about 19 states in the US, Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday. She said the US is currently “seeing about 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day”.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised and his adviser resigned on Wednesday after a video emerged of senior aides joking about a Christmas party at Downing Street last year when social events were banned under COVID-19 rules.

The leaked footage appears to contradict more than a week of denials by Johnson and his Ministers that a party took place, following newspaper reports that dozens of staff had attended an evening-long gathering on December 18, 2020.


Friday, December 10, 2021 – 01:00

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