More details about the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, have just been released. Multiple sources confirmed that Omicron might not have come from South Africa. Instead, the latest COVID-19 strain may have come from the Netherlands. After all, the country's RIVM health institute found Omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 to 23.
On the other hand, South Africa first reported the detection of Omicron in the country on Nov. 24. Virologist Chantal Reuksen said that it is possible that one of the first person confirmed with Omicron contracted it in the Netherlands.
Prior to the Netherlands' official announcement on Tuesday, health officials from the country said that they only found the variant from the passengers who came from South Africa and that arrived last Friday.
As of press writing, the total number of confirmed Omicron cases in the Netherlands has already reached 16. And at least 20 countries and territories have at least one confirmed case of Omicron.
Germany, Japan, Denmark, Australia have Omicron confirmed case
Earlier this week, authorities in Leipzig, Germany, confirmed an Omicron infection in a 39-year-old man who has not gone out of the country and has not been in contact with a positive patient.
Japan and France also confirmed their first cases of the new variant on Tuesday. Patrick Mavingui, a microbiologist from the French island territory of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, said that the first person who tested positive for Omicron was a 53-year-old man who traveled to Mozambique. The unnamed resident visited South Africa before returning to the island.
In Japan, the patient that tested positive for Omicron reportedly came from Namibia. The man in his 30s arrived at the Narita airport last Sunday and was immediately placed on quarantine, according to the Huffington Post.
Australia and Denmark also detected Omicron in the country. In the former, two fully vaccinated travelers and had no symptoms tested positive for the Omicron. In Denmark, the strain was found among two travelers that arrived from South Africa.
But despite the rising number of omicron cases worldwide, WHO still insists that an immediate travel ban isn't a solution. They also said that travel bans hurt the economy and must be avoided whenever possible, according to CNN.
WHO discourages countries from imposing travel bans
The WHO also labeled Omicron as a variant of concern because it could have a higher transmission rate and may not be combatted by vaccines.
The United States has not yet reported its first omicron case. But Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that it could already be spreading across the country.
"When you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you're already having travel-related cases...it almost invariably is ultimately going to go essentially all over," he said via Web MD.
Fauci added that the public should pay close attention to the virus, and it's best to prepare for it before it becomes even more serious. Even though there's still a faint chance that Omicron won't be as bad as the Delta variant, Fauci said it's still best to be ahead of it.