The Weekend Leader - 61 passengers who landed in Holland from S.Africa test Covid positive

61 passengers who landed in Holland from S.Africa test Covid positive

New Delhi



At least 61 new cases of Covid have entered the Netherlands from South Africa, the Dutch health ministry has revealed as fears mount over the spread of the new super mutant variant Omicron, the Daily Mail reported.

Around 600 passengers arrived on two planes in Schipol Airport, near Amsterdam, from Johannesburg -- the epicentre for the new strain that experts fear is 40 per cent more vaccine evasive than Delta -- hours after travel bans were put in place.

Europe's first case of the variant was spotted in Belgium on Friday -- despite the unvaccinated woman who caught it having travelled to Turkey and Egypt, not southern Africa where the strain emerged, the report said.

And Germany and the Czech Republic both confirmed suspected cases on Saturday. Germany's initial sequencing suggests a traveller from South Africa was carrying the virus with several mutations shared by Omicron. Officials are awaiting full sequencing later on Saturday, the report added.

South Africa recorded 2,828 new Covid cases on Friday, more than double the 1,374 recorded last Thursday, but infection levels have yet to skyrocket in the country and no hospitalisations with the new variant have occurred so far.

And Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, one of the Oxford scientists behind the AstraZeneca vaccine, on Saturday expressed cautious optimism that existing vaccines could be effective at preventing serious disease from the variant, the report added.

The US has joined the growing list of countries to close their borders, with President Joe Biden saying the pandemic will not end until global vaccinations are in place. And Australian authorities -- who also banned travel to nine countries in the region -- fear the variant may have already entered the country, the report added. -IANS

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