The Omicron variant detected for the first time in France, in Reunion Island

This first case was detected while the French health situation is worsening, in the words of the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran.

The health situation “is worsening” , warned the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, Tuesday, November 30. More than 10,000 people are hospitalized in France due to Covid-19, which had not happened since the beginning of September, and 47,177 new cases have been recorded over the last twenty-four hours.

This “continues to mark an increase in the spread of the virus on the national territory, with an average number of contaminations per day which exceeds 30,000 and which could be, if we continue this dynamic, of more than 60% per week, higher. at the peak of the third wave by the end of the week, ” said the minister during the questioning session at the National Assembly.

First case of Omicron variant in France

On Tuesday, a person positive for the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was identified on the island of Reunion, announced a researcher from the joint research unit Infectious process in tropical island environments (Pimit). This would be the first case identified in France.

The patient diagnosed positive is “a 53-year-old man” , who traveled to Mozambique and “made a stopover in South Africa” before coming to Reunion, said microbiologist Patrick Mavingui on the airwaves of Reunion la 1ère (group France Televisions). Placed in solitary confinement as well as his entourage, “the man suffers from muscle pain and fatigue” , declared the scientist.

The Pimit was mobilized “urgently” Sunday evening, “for the sequencing of six tests,” said the microbiologist. The other five samples are negative. Local and national health authorities were immediately notified, Mavingui said.

Tuesday morning on Europe 1 , the government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, clarified that the patient positive for the Omicron variant had six contacts at risk in his entourage. In addition, the test results of other suspected cases are awaited. “Other cases could be identified in the coming hours, I will obviously keep the French informed,” also promised Mr. Véran Tuesday afternoon.

A “very high” risk of spread

This information comes as the health ministry announced on Sunday that it “is monitoring with particular attention the overseas territories of Reunion and Mayotte, which are in direct or indirect connection with [the seven] countries” of southern Africa with which air links have been suspended since Friday. On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, announced that eight “possible” cases of carriers of the Omicron variant had been detected in France.

The new Omicron variant of the coronavirus presents “a very high risk” globally, warned the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday. “Given the mutations that could confer escape potential to the immune response as well as possibly give an advantage in terms of transmissibility, the likelihood of Omicron spreading globally is high,” according to a WHO document.

First reported less than a week ago to the WHO in South Africa, this new strain has since been identified, from the Pacific to Europe, via Canada, leading around 40 countries to announce travel restrictions.

The UN world health agency alludes to the many restrictions announced by many countries on air travel to and from southern Africa.

Many states have suspended their air links with South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and in some cases Malawi.

The opening of the second extraordinary session of the World Health Assembly comes as part of the world is closing under pressure from the Omicron variant. South Africa has denounced an “injustice” and called on Sunday evening for the “immediate and urgent lifting” of the travel restrictions penalizing it “.

According to media reports, Pretoria feels it is being “punished” as the country has played the game of transparency, South African officials say.

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