The omicron variant of the coronavirus detected in South Africa has probably already reached Germany, after characteristic mutations were detected last night in a traveler from the region.
As reported today by the Minister of Social Affairs of the federal state of Hesse, Kai Klose, through his Twitter account, “the omicron variant has already arrived with a very high probability in Germany.”
“A traveler from South Africa had several characteristic omicron mutations last night. There is therefore a high suspicion. The person in question is in home isolation, “he said.
At the moment the complete sequencing is still being carried out, he said, and he appealed to all those who arrived from South Africa in the last week to limit their contacts and to be tested.
Germany yesterday declared a risk zone due to the presence of the new omicron variant both in South Africa and in seven other countries in the region: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, the incidence of the coronavirus in Germany continues to peak day after day since the beginning of November and this Saturday stands at 444.3 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, compared to 438.2 on Friday and 362.2 a week ago, while vaccination progresses slowly.
According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) of virology updated last morning, in Germany there were 67,125 new infections in 24 hours and 303 deaths from or with COVID-19, while the number of active cases is around 813,400.
The cumulative seven-day admission rate in Germany currently stands at 5.97 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the occupancy in intensive care units (ICUs) of COVID-19 patients is 18.9% of available beds in critical units for the adult population.
71.1% of the population of Germany (59.1 million people) have been vaccinated, 68.4% (56.9 million) with the full regimen, while 8.6 million have already received a booster dose .
The president of the Council of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, predicts that in the next ten days the incidence will have doubled to between 700 and 800, in statements to the Funke media group.
He added that the effect of all the measures taken now, “even the reduction of contacts or a stoppage of public life”, will take two weeks and that in the short term, what can help “faster and better” is reducing contacts and avoiding crowds.
In the medium term, he said, only the generalized compulsory vaccine is useful – from the age of five (years), if the Permanent Commission of Vaccination (Stiko) of Germany allows it – with which all the measures could be dispensed with and “the return to our previous life ”, he affirmed.
Germany restricted the entry of travelers from South Africa
The acting German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, announced on Friday that the country will declare South Africa a risk zone for the new variant detected and as of last night it will only allow German citizens to enter the country from that region.
“Germany is going to declare South Africa a risk zone by variant. With the entry into force tonight, airlines will be able to transport to Germany only German citizens ”, announced the minister through his Twitter account.
In addition, all travelers entering the country from the area, including those vaccinated, must keep 14 days of quarantine, he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified the new variant of COVID detected in South Africa as “worrying” and called it “Omicron”, amid growing alarms from the international community.
“Preliminary evidence suggests a higher risk of reinfection with this variant, compared to the previous ones,” said the WHO in a statement, after an emergency meeting in which a group of experts had been convened to evaluate the B.1.1 strain. .529 of COVID-19.
The emergency meeting experts warned that the appearance of this variant, first confirmed in a specimen collected on November 9, has coincided with a sharp increase in infections in South Africa.
Omicron, which has led many countries to suspend flights to southern Africa, is concerned about the high number of mutations it presents, since in just two weeks around thirty have been detected, with confirmed cases not only in South Africa but also in neighboring Botswana, in Hong Kong (China) or in Belgium.