Genome analysis of the Omicron variant from people who arrived in the Netherlands from South Africa on Friday suggests that those passengers were probably already infected before boarding their flights, the Dutch health minister said on Monday.
He said that 14 cases of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant have now been discovered among those 624 people who arrived in the Netherlands from South Africa on Friday. That is one more case than the previously reported number.
“The sequencing analysis shows that there are different sequences, suggesting that the people affected very likely contracted the virus in different places and in any case not during the flight,” caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. “More samples are being sequenced and the results are expected today. The course of the infection in the people who tested positive will continue to be followed.”
Though De Jonge did not indicate that any cases of community transmission had yet been discovered in the Netherlands, he warned that the discovery of the variant “in other countries” in people who have not recently been to southern Africa points to possible “wider circulation.”
While he said that the variant had “genetic markers that point to possibly higher transmissibility,” he wrote that “based on information now available, it is not possible to properly evaluate whether and in which way the transmissibility of the Omicron variant is higher than that of the Delta variant.”
“There is almost no information about a possibly altered sickness,” he wrote.
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