Dozens of KLM flights from South Africa to Amsterdam were infected with COVID

As the world waits to find out just how dangerous the Omicron super-mutant COVID variant is, Dutch authorities revealed that 61 people who arrived on two flights from South Africa – where the virus strain is spreading – had died. give a positive result.

It is not known whether the passengers were infected with Omicron or an earlier version of the coronavirus, but the finding highlights the possibility that the new variant has spread globally.

Previously, cases had only been identified in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium – all of which were travelers from countries in South Africa.

The arrival of Omicron has caused anxiety around the world, with the US, UK and other countries banning travel from South Africa and its neighbors and stock markets taking a nosedive. worst of the year.

“It seems to be spreading rapidly,” said President Joe Biden. “I have decided that we will be cautious.”

But positive tests from two KLM flights that landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport clearly illustrate the potential threat. Health experts believe Omicron is behind South Africa’s recent surge in COVID — and 10% of those on board were infected.

These flyers have now been quarantined, but the specter of other infected travelers slipping through the testing procedures and making their way to their destinations undetected remains large.

While many COVID variants have been identified — including the Delta strain that caused this year’s deadly surge — Omicron is of particular interest because it has more than 30 mutations to the mutated protein that allows the virus to bind. associated with human cells.

Public health officials are trying to determine if that makes it more contagious – even with vaccination – and whether it causes more severe illness or carries a higher risk of death. are not.

With little-known information, many scientists are warning people to be cautious but not to panic.

“At least from a speculative point of view, we have some optimism that the vaccine should still work against a new variant of severe disease but really we need to wait a few weeks for that to be confirmed. confirmed,” Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group told the BBC. Dozens of KLM flights from South Africa to Amsterdam were infected with COVID


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