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Dr. Fauci says Omicron variant likely to be in US; 2 cases found in UK

November 27, 2021
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday it is possible that the Omicron COVID-19 variant is already in the United States but has yet to be detected.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday it is possible that the Omicron COVID-19 variant is already in the United States but has yet to be detected.

WASHINGTON/LONDON — Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday it is possible that the Omicron COVID-19 variant is already in the United States but has yet to be detected.

"I would not be surprised if it is, we have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you're having travel-related cases they've noted in other places already, when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is going to go all over," Dr. Fauci told NBC.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that to date no known Omicron cases have been identified in the US, and that if the variant emerges, the agency expects that cases would be quickly identified through the nation's variant surveillance system.

"The issue of blocking travel from a given country is to just give us time to assess it better. That's the reason for doing that. Not any reason to panic, but we want to give it some time to really fill in the blanks of what we don't know right now," Dr. Fauci added.

Although there is "not any reason to panic," Dr. Fauci cautioned that the new variant is to be taken seriously and warrants the newly imposed travel ban against South Africa and seven neighboring countries.

"It may not turn out that way, but you want to be ahead of it. That's why we're doing what we're doing," he added.

Meanwhile, Britain on Saturday declared registering two cases of the new strain of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Omicron.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in tweeted remarks that he had been notified by the British health security agency about the registration of the two Omicron-infected cases; one in Nottingham and the other in Chelmsford.

The two cases were linked to a back flight from South Africa, he said, adding the pair had been subjected to home quarantine, while the authorities were tracking any other case.

The health department will spare no effort to contain the new variant of the virus, he said.

In Rabat, the Moroccan authorities have decided, following information on the emergence of a new dangerous variant in South Africa, to ban access to the national territory to nationals from South Africa and several other southern African countries as well as to passengers coming from or transiting through these countries.

According to the Agence Maroccaine de Press (MAP), the list issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad, includes South Africa, in addition to Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. — Agencies


November 27, 2021
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