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The new corona mutant "Omicron"


The new corona mutant "Omicron"
The new corona mutant "Omicron"

The World Health Organization said that preliminary results indicate that the new strain of the Corona virus, which was discovered for the first time in South Africa, is the most contagious among all the virus mutations that have appeared so far. After a long day of meetings, the organization classified the new strain as "of concern" and named it the Latin letter "omicron". This comes as more countries announced a ban on flights from South Africa and neighboring countries, for fear of transmitting the new strain, while cases were announced in several countries, including Belgium, Israel, and Botswana, in addition to Hong Kong.

The organization warned against rushing to impose travel restrictions, saying that countries should take a "scientific, risk-based approach". But several countries, including the United States, Britain and the Netherlands, have imposed a ban on flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Lesotho. So did Arab countries, including Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The European Union also agreed to impose a travel ban on the seven countries, after Belgium recorded the first infection with the new mutated virus, reports indicated that it was for a person returning from Egypt.

However, the Egyptian authorities said, describing these reports as "unconfirmed information," saying that the Egyptian Ministry of Health's spokesman, Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, said that its source was still an unofficial tweet, and the authorities in Belgium had not documented it. Other countries, including Japan, announced restrictions, such as compulsory isolation, on arrivals from the South African region.
South Africa criticized the measures, saying they were "premature". The World Health Organization says it may take a few weeks to know the extent of the new mutation's impact, while scientists investigate the severity of the infection it causes.

The new mutant differs from the strains known so far. Scientists say that this is the largest mutation in the virus, meaning that vaccines designed against the original strain may not be effective with it. Pfizer and its German partner, BioN Tech, began evaluating the effectiveness of their vaccine against the new mutant. The German company will obtain more accurate information about the new mutant within two weeks, when it receives more data from the laboratories, according to Reuters news agency. At the same time, oil prices fell by more than ten percent, the largest drop in one day in eighteen months. The value of shares also plunged in different parts of the world, amid fears raised by the new strain of the Corona virus

European markets opened down about 3 percent, as airlines and travel-related companies were hit hard. US markets opened sharply lower, with travel, banking and commodities companies recording declines. There are urgent questions about how quickly the new mutation can spread, its ability to bypass some of the protection offered by vaccines, and what should be done about it. There is a lot of speculation, but few clear answers.

"They scare us that this virus may have enhanced transmissibility, enhanced the ability to spread from person to person, but may also be able to circumvent parts of the immune system," said Richard Lisels, a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. There were many examples of mutants that looked scary on paper, but didn't achieve anything. The beta mutant was at the forefront of people's concerns at the beginning of the year because it was the best at escaping the immune system. But in the end the delta mutate spread faster and the resulting strain took over the world.