Brazil detected on Tuesday the first cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the country, which also represent the first infections in Latin America with this lineage of SARS-CoV-2 that has once again put the world on alert.
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The two positives correspond to a man, 41, and a woman, 37, who reside in South Africa, the country where it was discovered the new variant, and were visiting Brazil, as reported by the Government of Sao Paulo.
The couple disembarked on the 23rd at Guarulhos international airport, in the metropolitan area of the capital of São Paulo, but when they were preparing their return to South Africa tested positive for COVID-19.
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The Albert Einstein Hospital, one of the most reputable private clinics in Latin America, then carried out the genetic sequencing of both samples and found, in a preliminary way, that they were infections with the Omicron variant, the potential of which is being investigated by the international scientific community. .
The health authorities of Sao Paulo they ratified shortly after the diagnosis through the Adolfo Lutz Institute.
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In addition, Sao Paulo is investigating another possible case of contagion with Ómicron from a passenger who was in South Africa and also tested positive for the coronavirus, which has already killed almost 615,000 people in Brazil and infected more than 22 million.
Likewise, the Brazilian authorities are investigating other possible infected with the new variant in travelers recently arrived from African countries, one in the state of Minas Gerais (southeast) and another in the Federal District of Brasilia.
Meanwhile, Japan announced the detection of a second case of Omicron in the Asian archipelago. According to the government, it is a man in his 20s arrived on November 27 on a plane to Tokyo from Peru, a country that has not officially detected any case of this new variant
Brazil, again the gateway
Brazil, one of the countries in the world most affected by COVID-19, was also the gateway for the coronavirus in Latin America, with the first case registered on February 26, 2020, and was also the place of origin of the “Variant of concern” known as gamma or P.1, emerged in the state of Amazonas (north).
Now, in an attempt to avoid a new wave, the Brazilian Government suspended since last Monday flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe, and is considering extending that measure to Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
However, the first cases of omicron in the country are of passengers who arrived in Brazil before this restriction was announced, which other countries have also adopted in order to prevent the spread of the new lineage in their territories.
Little is known about the Omicron variant. At the moment, about twenty countries have registered at least one case. The first in America were reported in Canada.
It is suspected that it may be more contagious due to the high number of mutations (30) it has in the spike (spike), which the virus uses to infect human cells, but it is not known if it causes serious illness and if it reduces the effectiveness of vaccines current.
Pandemic truce in Brazil
Ómicron’s landing occurs at a time when Brazil is experiencing a certain pandemic stability, with the number of infections and deaths at their lowest levels practically since the outbreak of the virus in the country, in February 2020.
This truce is mainly due to the progress of the vaccination campaign, which has allowed 75% of the 213 million Brazilians have a dose and 63%, the complete guideline.
However, the rebound in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the appearance of this new variant have put governors and mayors on alert, several of whom have canceled in recent days the festivities scheduled for the end of the year.
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, has not ruled out canceling the events and concerts scheduled to host 2022, which usually bring together millions of people in the iconic tourist beaches Rio de Janeiro capital.
Likewise, the carnival of 2022, the biggest festival of Brazilian society, is also in the air, amid alerts from health specialists, who recommend caution and maintain certain preventive measures, such as the mandatory use of a mask, until the true potential of the Omicron variant is discovered.
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