November 29, 2021
"We are back to the familiar scene: growing concerns about a mutated new coronavirus." The BBC reported on November 26 that scientists described B.1.1.529 as "terrible" and the worst they have ever seen. Mutated virus.
On November 26, local time, the WHO held an emergency meeting and issued a statement, listing the new coronavirus mutant strain B.1.1.529 as a “mutant strain that needs attention” and named it Omicron (Omicron).
"Variants that need attention" are the highest level of WHO. According to the characteristics of pathogenicity and transmission risk of variant strains, WHO divides them into three categories: Variants of Concern (VOC), Variants of Interest (Variants of Interest), and further monitoring. Variant strain.
Among them, the highest-level VOC currently has four strains, and the well-known Delta mutant strain is one of them.
After the emergence of the new strain, European and American stock markets fell sharply. The emergence of Omicron brought the panic index to the highest level in nearly two months. It coincided with the traditional American holiday Thanksgiving, and European and American investors encountered an unusually tragic "Black Friday."
More ferocious than the Indian Delta variant!
The researchers said that the delta mutant strain found in India last October contains a total of 16 mutations; and this time, according to preliminary studies, it was found that the Omicron mutant strain has more mutations than the delta strain, which is currently known. There are at least 32 mutations.
A large number of mutations means that the effectiveness of existing new crown vaccines may be weakened and may be more contagious. Therefore, some people refer to Omicron as a "super mutant".
The Omicron strain was confirmed for the first time in South Africa on November 9 and was first reported to WHO on the 24th.
The WHO said in a statement: "This mutant strain has a large number of mutations, some of which are worrying."
Preliminary evidence shows that the B.1.1.529 strain may increase the risk of people being infected with the new crown, compared with other mutant strains that "need attention" before. This strain is detected faster than other mutant strains that have caused a surge in infections in the past, indicating that this latest mutant strain may have a growth advantage.
The WHO said that because the virological characteristics of this new variant strain are still poorly understood, to assess whether it is more infectious or more resistant to vaccine protection, more experimental data is still needed.
At present, South African scientists are racing against time to determine the spread of the new virus and whether the existing vaccines are effective against it, or it may take at least two weeks for results.
Has spread to many regions around the world!
At present, the Omicron mutant strain is spreading in Africa and beyond Africa at an alarming rate. Take South Africa as an example. Recently, 90% of new infections in Gauteng, South Africa are related to this variant.
Many European countries are currently experiencing the fourth wave of the epidemic, with a substantial increase in confirmed cases, and the most widespread strain is the Delta strain. But as soon as Omicron came out, the European Union immediately "slammed on the brakes"-the European Union decided to activate the "emergency brake" mechanism on November 26, suspending flights to and from Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The United States also stated on the 26th that it will restrict travel with South Africa and seven other African countries from November 29, but it will not affect the return of American citizens and permanent residents to the United States. Experts are also worried that Omicron may have spread to the United States due to the long-term slow progress in the United States in the genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus.
At present, many countries have banned the entry of travelers from southern Africa. In addition to the European Union and the United States, there are also the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., which have announced entry restrictions for flights and passengers from many African countries.
However, some health experts believe that with the recent lifting of bans in many countries and the reopening of international travel, the spread of the mutant strain has expanded to more countries and regions, and travel restrictions may be too late to prevent Omicron from spreading on a global scale.
So far, there have been cases of the Omicron strain in at least five countries or regions, including South Africa, Belgium, Israel, Botswana and Hong Kong.
The situation of the two cases in Hong Kong, China is as follows:
The source is an Indian man who arrived in Hong Kong from South Africa recently. The 36-year-old man arrived in Hong Kong from South Africa on November 11. At the time, the nucleic acid test at the Hong Kong International Airport was negative. He was diagnosed on November 15 during isolation in a quarantine hotel. Only 3 days later, an isolated person in the same quarantine hotel was also diagnosed with infection, and their hotel room was diagonally opposite.
This 36-year-old patient was using a mask with an exhalation valve, which could not effectively filter the exhaled droplets, which could easily spread the virus. The patient also admitted that he did not wear a mask half of the time when he opened the door of the hotel to pick up the meal, which may cause the virus to spread in the corridor. Of the 87 environmental samples collected by the Hong Kong Center for Health Protection at the hotel, 25 were found to be infected.
The results of whole-genome sequencing analysis showed that the genetic sequence of the two cases in Hong Kong was very similar, and both carried the mutant virus strain Omicron. Both patients have received two doses of Pfizer's new crown vaccine.
As of 0:00 on November 27, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is investigating 3 new confirmed cases of new crown virus disease, all involving infection of mutant virus strains.
The World Health Organization recommends strengthening the sequencing, monitoring, and epidemiological tracking of Omicron. For individuals, the World Health Organization recommends a variety of measures to reduce the risk of virus exposure, including maintaining social distance, wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding crowded places, paying attention to ventilation, and timely vaccination. These proven methods are particularly important at this moment.
Recently, I watched some TV shows or movies from the early years. In the show, people said that traveling abroad means just walking away. The pedestrians on the street don't even wear masks. Seeing these, it always feels like a world away.
Please also this winter, two years after the outbreak of the epidemic, still do not relax your vigilance, insist on wearing masks, washing your hands frequently, ventilating more, and not gathering. When the spring blossoms in the coming year, I hope that our work and life can finally get back on track!
|Contact Person :||Ms. Tina Lau|