Coronavirus: Australia confirms third case of Omicron, WHO’s newest ‘Variant of Concern’

Australia reported another case of the new variant of concern – Omicron, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to three.

The variant was detected in a 30-year-old South African man who had arrived in Darwin from Johannesburg, South Africa last week. This was informed by Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles.

Australia had reported its first two cases of the new strain from Sydney on Sunday, prompting the government to impose a two-week ban on visitors from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Following the detection of the new variant in the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee to assess the situation.

“Let’s not forget that we’re not in the situation we were back in the first half of 2020. We have 86.7% of the population vaccinated,” local broadcaster Seven News quoted the Prime Minister.

“We have already had 13 other strains which have presented. This is not the first of the new strains that we have seen, and the evidence to date does not suggest that it is a more severe form of the virus,” he further said, adding that there is still no evidence suggesting issues about its transmissibility or the impact on current vaccines.

Australia is one of several countries that has closed its borders to those coming from over half a dozen southern African nations over fears of the new variant.

The new strain was first detected in Botswana on Nov 11, and later in Hong Kong. The World Health Organization On Friday declared it a “variant of concern,” naming it Omicron.

It may be mentioned that fears of the new variant have prompted several countries, including Australia, to block their borders to people from more than a half-dozen southern African states.

Scientists in South Africa reported this week that they had detected the Omicron variety, which contains multiple alterations that could lead to reinfection.