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Health And Family

PCRs detect Omicron, studies under way for other tests: WHO

Agence France-Presse
PCRs detect Omicron, studies under way for other tests: WHO
A healthcare worker conducts a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test on a traveller at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. A flurry of countries around the world have banned ban flights from southern Africa following the discovery of the variant, including the United States, Canada, Australia,Thailand, Brazil and several European countries. The main countries targeted by the shutdown include South Africa, Botswana, eSwatini (Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
AFP/Phil Magakoe

GENEVA, Switzerland — While PCR tests can detect infection with Omicron, studies are looking to whether the Covid-19 variant of concern has any impact on other test types, the WHO said Sunday.

"The widely-used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants," the World Health Organization said in an update on what is known so far about the new variant.

"Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests."

The WHO on Friday declared Omicron, first detected earlier this month in southern Africa, to be a variant of concern.

The classification put Omicron into the most troubling category of Covid-19 variants, along with the globally dominant Delta, and its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

Omicron spread across the globe on Sunday, shutting borders and renewing curbs as the EU chief said governments faced a "race against time" to understand the strain.

The variant has cast doubt on global efforts to battle the pandemic due to fears that it is highly infectious, forcing countries to reimpose measures many had hoped were a thing of the past.

In its update, the WHO said it was "not yet clear" whether Omicron spreads more easily from person to person, or whether infection with the variant causes more severe disease compared to other strains.

"There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants," the UN health agency said.

While preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of people who previously had Covid being reinfected with Omicron, information is currently limited.

The WHO said it was working to understand the potential impact of the variant on existing counter-measures, including vaccines.

As for treatments, the organisation said corticosteroids and IL6 receptor blockers would still be effective for managing patients with severe Covid-19 — while other treatments would be assessed to see if they are still as effective against Omicron.

The WHO has said studies into various aspects of the new variant would take several weeks to reach conclusions.

"WHO is coordinating with a large number of researchers around the world to better understand Omicron," it said.

"More information will emerge in the coming days and weeks."

COVID-19 VARIANT OMICRON
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 19, 2022 - 1:59pm

Follow this page for updates on the new COVID-19 variant, dubbed Omicron and originally detected in South Africa. Photo courtesy of the The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

January 19, 2022 - 1:59pm

The Philippines reports the detection of 492 additional cases of the hyper-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Of the total, 332 are locals, while 160 are returning overseas Filipinos.

This brings the total number of Omicron cases in the country. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

January 19, 2022 - 8:36am

France's daily reported new coronavirus cases broke a new record on Tuesday with an average of over 300,000 a day in the past week, with the headline figure approaching half a million.

The latest data issued by Public Health France showed that there were 464,769 new cases in the last 24-hour period as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread unabated.

A day earlier, 102,144 people had tested positive for the virus. — AFP

January 18, 2022 - 11:29am

China's postal service has ordered workers to disinfect international deliveries and urged the public to reduce orders from overseas after authorities claimed mail could be the source of recent coronavirus outbreaks.

China Post on Monday published a statement ordering workers to disinfect the outer packaging of all international mail "as soon as possible" and requiring employees handling foreign letters and packages to receive booster vaccine shots.

The postal service also asked the public to reduce purchases and deliveries from "countries and regions with a high overseas epidemic risk" and said domestic mail should be handled in different areas to prevent cross-contamination. — AFP

January 14, 2022 - 11:45am

Preliminary data from a trial shows AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine increased antibodies against the coronavirus Omicron variant for a booster dose.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical reports that the response against both Omicron and Delta variants was seen in those who received the booster while initially vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca shot or another mRNA vaccine.

January 11, 2022 - 11:09am

Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the Philippines says Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, citing results of the latest genome sequencing on January 3.

The newest "variant of concern" has surpassed the Delta variant, believed to be behind the second wave of the pandemic in March last year.

Omicron is even more transmissible than the Delta variant.

FULL STORY: Omicron dominant COVID-19 variant in latest genome sequencing — DOH

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