A recent study conducted by the University of Hong Kong has published alarming findings about the potential of the Omicron strain of coronavirus, insinuating the possibility of airborne transmission of the Covid-19 varinat. In a Hong Kong quarantine hotel, two fully vaccinated travelers transmitted the Omicron variant across the corridor of the facility without coming in contact with anyone, leaving health authorities jittery.
The study, based on the footage of a closed-circuit television camera, found that neither of the patients left their respective rooms nor had any contact. Besides, the doors of their rooms were opened only for food collection or Covid testing, therefore raising the concern of the strain being airborne, Bloomberg reported.
“Detection of Omicron variant transmission between two fully vaccinated persons across the corridor of a quarantine hotel has highlighted this potential concern,” the study, which was published on Friday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found.
Two days ago, a team of South African researchers said that Omicron has “substantial ability to evade natural immunity”.
Early evidence presented by the researchers suggested the risk of coronavirus reinfection increased threefold between the period of October beginning and November end.
The new Covid variant Omicron has many more mutations than the Delta variant, according to a first “image” of this new variant initially detected in South Africa, produced and published by the prestigious Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome.
On the three-dimensional “image”, which looks like a map, “we can clearly see that the Omicron variant presents many more mutations than the Delta variant, concentrated above all in one area of the protein that interacts with human cells”, the team of researchers said in a statement Sunday.
“This does not automatically mean that these variations are more dangerous, just that the virus has further adapted to the human species by generating another variant,” the researchers said.
Last week, a WHO scientist said that around 450 researchers around the world have begun urgent studies to understand the extent to which omicron’s mutations may affect vaccine effectiveness and increase its transmissibility in a global effort that may yield answers in a few days.
Meanwhile, South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions, as the Omicron variant pushes the country into a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
Ramaphosa said in a weekly newsletter that Omicron appeared to be dominating new infections in most provinces and urged more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. “We will soon be convening a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council to review the state of the pandemic. This will enable us to take whatever further measures are needed to keep people safe and healthy,” he added.