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Omicron likely to circulate longer than expected

As more cases of omicron rise worldwide, experts say it’s likely that the strain will circulate for a while.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said that at least 24 countries have now recorded new omicron cases. They are now expecting that number to rise.

The last country that detected the new variant was the U.S. in a fully vaccinated person coming back from South Africa. Moreover, another fully vaccinated person became infected by the virus after returning from New York.

Countries that identified the new variant are the U.K., Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Australia, Israel, Canada, Hong Kong, and several countries in Africa.

Several EU countries and the U.S. responded to the news by temporarily interrupting flights from South Africa and its neighboring countries. They also applied strict quarantines on people coming from this region.

The move produced anger in South Africa.

South Africa was the first country to report the new omicron strain to the WHO at the end of November. However, some evidence appeared showing that Omicron was circulating in some countries before South Africa informed the world. A growing number of cases arise with no travel connection to South Africa, submitting that community transmission occurs.

For example, in Scotland, health authorities detected several cases after a single private event. None of the people there were affected or involved have any travel history to Africa.

On Tuesday, there was another example when the health authorities from the Netherlands identified the omicron variant at the beginning of November. They found out that flights from South Africa had brought the first cases of the new variant.

On Tuesday, Germany reported a case of the new variant. The individual had not been to South Africa and had no previous contact.

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