The new Omicron version of the coronavirus has been circulating in Europe longer than ever before: in the Netherlands, for example, the mutation was detected in two test samples dated 19 and 23 November. The Dutch Institute for Public Health (RIVM) made the announcement yesterday. South Africa did not officially announce the discovery of the new variant with the scientific name B.188.8.131.529 until 24 November.
However, it is still unclear whether the infected people tested on November 19 and 23 were also in southern Africa, the RIVM said. The affected people were informed that the authorities would take care of tracking their contacts.
Portugal: Football clubs affected
In Portugal there are also indications that Omicron has been used in Europe for some time. In the football club Belenenses Lisbon, B.1.1529 was found in 13 players and officials. Defender Thibang Kafue Fett recently returned to his club after serving at international level from South Africa. He played for the national team against Ghana on 14 November.
Omicron has also been circulating in Scotland for some time, and six cases have been detected. However, these six people have no relation to the passengers returning from South Africa, the regional government in Edinburgh said.
Therefore, it could be considered the first broadcast within Scotland, said BBC Deputy Prime Minister John Swain. “It certainly presents us with additional challenges in containing the spread.”
Emer Cook, director of the European Medicines Agency EMA, insists they are ready for Omicron. It will take two weeks to get a clue as to whether current vaccines can cope with the variant. “If a new vaccine is needed to counter Omicron, it will take up to four months to be approved for use in the EU,” Cook said.
Olaf Scholz for compulsory vaccination
During yesterday’s deliberations between the German government and the prime minister, in which Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD candidate also participated, voices were raised in favor of compulsory vaccination: “As a member of parliament, I am certainly for it.” Agree, so that I can be very clear,” Scholz insisted. Like in Austria, compulsory vaccination could come into effect from February 1, 2022.
Union and Greens prime ministers also spoke in favor of this. Greens co-chair and possibly new chancellor Robert Hebeck said: “Of course, a mandatory vaccination would be a far-reaching interference with the liberty of the individual. But it also protects lives and ultimately the freedoms of society.”
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