Cases of the Omicron variant of the coronvirus, appeared in the Netherlands over the weekend – with 13 cases showing up on Sunday and both Canada and Australia found two cases the same day.
The variant was identified several days ago by researchers in South Africa, and much remain unknown, including whether or not it’s more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade the protection of vaccines.
Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. – stated at this point there’s no information to suggest the variant causes more serious illness than previous COVID-19 variants. Collins stressed that this news should make everyone redouble their efforts to use all the tools they have at their disposal to avoid being infected – including vaccinations, booster shots, and mask-wearing.
The U.S. will start banning travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries starting today (Monday, November 29th). Experts say it will take around two more weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity and other characteristics of Omicron.