– Some encouraging findings

Preliminary findings on the severity of the omicron variant of the coronavirus are “slightly encouraging”, according to the United States’ chief of infection control Anthony Fauci.

– It is too early to give any definitive statements, but so far it does not look like the variant is so very serious. So far, the findings are a bit encouraging, Fauci said in an interview with CNN Sunday.

Despite the fact that infection rates in South Africa – where the variant was first discovered – has increased sharply recently, admission numbers have remained more stable.

The first detected omicron case in South Africa was registered on 8 November. Mild disease progression has been observed among people who have been diagnosed with the variant. No deaths have been reported.

Assistant director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health Espen Nakstad talks about the omicron infection on the Christmas table at Louise in Oslo.
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Awaiting conclusion

However, Fauci stressed that more information about the variant is still needed.

– We must be careful to draw a conclusion that the variant is less serious or that it does not lead to more serious disease compared to the delta variant, he said.

Figures from South Africa may indicate that the omicron variant has significantly increased dispersibility. If this is the case, it may be because the variant is more contagious compared to other variants, or because it has a greater ability to circumvent immunity, or a combination of these two factors.

At a press conference on Thursday, Professor Anne von Gottberg at the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) stated that they have now received indications that the omicron variant appears to give a greater risk of reinfection compared to the delta variant and the beta variant.

Director of the National Institute of Public Health, Camilla Stoltenberg, talks about extensive infection detection work in connection with the new omikron virus. Reporter: Frode Andresen. Video: Marte Nyløkken Helseth
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Laboratory tests have been initiated in several other countries to uncover the properties of the mutation. It has been announced that the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) will probably present an updated risk assessment of the omikron variant this week.

Suspected cases in Norway

The laboratories have now been asked to check all positive samples for variants. So far, 19 confirmed cases of omicron have been detected in Norway, but the real number can be far higher.

It is expected that FHI will update the official infection rate on Monday.

On Saturday, department head Line Vold in FHI said that several municipalities have reported that they suspect the omikron variant in recent days.

DEPARTMENT HEAD: Line Vold in FHI states that several municipalities have reported that they suspect that the omikron variant. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB
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– There are many reports of suspected cases that are handled by the municipalities in collaboration with the outbreak group at NIPH, and there are many microbiological laboratories around the country that do screening and also sequencing to confirm or deny omikron. There may therefore be reports from individual municipalities outside our overall overviews at national level, said Vold.

– Can not stop it

On Sunday morning, it was confirmed that 120 people have been infected in connection with an outbreak at Louise Resturant & Bar in Oslo. At least 13 of those infected have been diagnosed with the omicron variant of the virus.

District chief physician and infection control physician in the district Frogner, Tine Ravlo, informed Dagbladet on Sunday afternoon that it was very unrealistic to gain control of the outbreak.

– The outbreak has ramifications to other districts and municipalities. We are now trying to slow it down, but can not stop it, Ravlo told Dagbladet.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) announced on Tuesday new corona measures in connection with the omicron eruption. It amended the covid-19 regulation involves tightening the isolation, quarantine and test regimes for people with a confirmed or suspected omicron.

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