November 29 – The World Health Organization called on the 28th that it is not clear whether the new coronavirus variant virus Omikron is more infectious or may cause more serious diseases. Countries do not need to rush to impose a travel ban on southern African countries because they are worried about this new strain.
Marcdiso Muti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that travel restrictions may help slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, but they can also impose a heavy burden on people’s livelihoods; if travel restrictions are imposed, they “should be based on science and international health regulations”.
“With the discovery of Omikron strains in many parts of the world, the travel ban on Africa will undermine global unity.” Muti said, “Only by looking for a solution together can the epidemic be expected to ease.”
Muti praised the governments of South Africa and Botswana for reporting the “speed and transparency” of new strains. He said that WHO is working with African countries to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Since South Africa first reported the discovery of the new strain to WHO on the 24th, in addition to African countries such as Botswana, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia and other countries have also found confirmed coronavirus cases of infection with this strain. Israel, Morocco, the United States and other countries have announced measures such as passenger and flight entry restrictions on South Africa and its surrounding countries.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on the 28th that the imposition of travel restrictions was “completely unreasonable”. This approach is not based on science and will not effectively prevent the spread of this variant. “It will only lead to further economic frustration in the affected countries, weakening their ability to cope with the epidemic and affecting their recovery from the epidemic”.
Francis Collins, president of the National Institutes of Health, stressed that there is no data that new strains may cause more serious diseases than previously discovered strains.” Look at the speed of transmission (Omikron strain) in many parts of South Africa. I don’t think it is more contagious.
A WHO statement said: “Preliminary data show that the hospitalization rate in South Africa (coronavirus) is rising, but this may be due to the increase in the total number of infections, rather than the result of infection with the Omikron strain.”
The statement said that no infection symptoms of the Omikron strain have been found to be different from other variant strains so far. WHO is stepping up cooperation with health experts to study the potential impact of this strain on existing epidemic prevention measures and vaccines. Among the earliest reported cases, most of the people infected with the Omikron strain were young and in mild condition, but it would take days or even weeks to understand the severity of the strain.
WHO said it will increase its support to African countries to ensure that laboratories have enough manpower and reagents to fully promote gene sequencing. In addition, WHO will provide monitoring, treatment, infection prevention and other assistance to Southern African countries in epidemic prevention and control to enhance their ability to respond to the epidemic.