Cases of the omicron variant have been detected in Switzerland and Scotland, a sign that the new, mutation-heavy COVID-19 strain is spreading across the globe.
Switzerland’s Federal Office for Public Health announced in a tweet on Sunday that the first probable case of the new strain was detected in an individual who returned roughly a week ago from South Africa, where the omicron variant was first discovered.
The Federal Office for Public Health said sequencing will help bring clarity to the situation in the days to come.
#CoronaInfoCH— BAG – OFSP – UFSP (@BAG_OFSP_UFSP) November 28, 2021
Premier cas probable du variant Omicron en Suisse chez une personne revenue d'Afrique du Sud il y a environ une semaine. Le séquençage apportera des certitudes dans les jours à venir.
In Scotland, six cases of the omicron variant have been detected, according to Reuters. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said not all of the omicron cases are linked to travel from South Africa or have a connection to individuals who were recently in southern Africa, raising concerns about community transmission.
“This suggests that there might already be some community transmission of this variant,” Sturgeon reportedly said at a news conference.
“There is no evidence yet that this is sustained, nor any evidence from the enhanced surveillance that it is widespread at this stage,” she added.
She also said that, based on the timeline, it is unlikely, though not impossible, that the omicron cases are linked to the COP26 climate change conference, which convened in Glasgow earlier this month with officials from a number of countries.
The detection of cases in Switzerland and Scotland comes days after the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the omicron strain a variant of concern.
The strain has a high number of mutations, though more information is still needed to understand its transmissibility, severity and how well existing vaccines will protect against infection.
Anthony FauciAnthony FauciKid Rock releases anti-Biden, anti-Fauci single with a 'Let's go, Brandon' chorus Fauci: Omicron-specific vaccines 'prudent' but may be unnecessary Conservative pundit says YouTube blocked interview with Rand Paul MORE, who serves as the chief medical adviser to President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE, on Sunday said the strain will “inevitably” be detected in the U.S., noting the fact that it has already spread to a number of countries.
Some nations, including the U.S., are now imposing travel restrictions against South Africa and other neighboring African countries to protect against the spread of the variant.
In Switzerland, travelers from 19 countries are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test when boarding a flight to enter the country, and they must go through 10 days of quarantine once they arrive, according to Reuters.
In the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Boris JohnsonBoris JohnsonLondon police investigating Downing Street lockdown parties The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia Defense & National Security — Pentagon puts 8,500 troops on high alert MORE has required mask wearing in shops and on public transport, the news service reported.