Officially, no case of Omicron – or B1.1.529 – has been reported in France.
However, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran today (Sunday November 28) said it was “only a matter of hours” before a case was identified, and that “it is very likely that there are already cases spreading” in the country.
So far, French authorities have said any contact cases for people who test positive for Omicron will have to self-isolate, even if they are fully vaccinated.
On Friday November 26, the Ministry of Health said: “Any risky contact of a possible or confirmed case of B1.1.529 variant, regardless of vaccination status, should be considered a ‘high risk contact’ and should be placed in quarantine. ”
“Variant of concern”
Also on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially called Omicron a “variant of concern (VOC)”.
This means that it has the potential to have a higher degree of transmissibility, harmfulness or resistance to Covid treatments, including vaccines.
It is the fifth variant to be classified as such, after Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, the latter constituting the vast majority of cases in France.
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, compared to other VOCs, ”the WHO wrote in a statement on Omicron.
“The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces of South Africa,” he added.
The French government health agency Santé publique France said yesterday that knowledge about the variant was “still incomplete” and that it was working to develop it further.
While South Africa is currently the main hotspot for the variant, cases have already been identified in Belgium, the UK, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
In the latter country, around sixty passengers from Johannesburg are still in quarantine in a hotel near the airport.
The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said: “The Omicron variant was probably found among those tested.
Travel restrictions have already been put in place to combat the variant.
This includes the United Kingdom demanding PCR tests on day 2 and self-isolation until negative result, for all international arrivals regardless of the country of departure or the vaccination status, from 4 a.m. on Tuesday, November 30.
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