One more new COVID-19 strain, omicron, entering the world from Southern Africa

On November 18 the South African Dr Angelique Coetzee, when four family members all tested positive for Covid-19 with complete exhaustion and other patients in her busy private practice in the capital Pretoria started to come in earlier this month with Covid-19 symptoms that did not make immediate sense, she informed the country’s vaccine advisory committee of a new variant. They included young people of different backgrounds and ethnicities with intense fatigue and a six-year-old child with a very high pulse rate, but none suffered from a loss of taste or smell.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named the new coronavirus variant omicron, skipping two letters of the Greek alphabet, nu and xi, to avoid giving what is perhaps the most dangerous variant yet the same name as President Xi Jinping, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party.

In May, the WHO announced that new variants of Sars-Cov-2, the coronavirus causing the global pandemic, would be named after Greek letters, and not the country or locale in which they were first identified.

Beforehand, the only official labels were assigned by scientific databases and featured a letter followed by a string of numbers, such as B.1.1.7, P.1 and B.1.351.

As a result, these clunky names were replaced colloquially by the name of the place where they were first found, such as Kent, Brazil and South Africa.

All pre-existing variants were retrospectively named in order of their emergence, while those that emerged later took up the next available letter in the alphabet.

Thus, the Kent variant became known as alpha, South African became eta, Brazilian became gamma and the Indian variant was rebadged as delta. Aside from these well-known forms, there have been nine others, stretching all the way down to mu. The B.1.1.529 variant, now called omicron, was first identified in Botswana on November 11. It has now been detected in the UK as well as South Africa, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Belgium.

“We’re flying at warp speed,”

says Penny Moore, a virologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, whose lab is gauging the variant’s potential to dodge immunity from vaccines and previous infections. There are anecdotal reports of reinfections and of cases in vaccinated individuals, but

“at this stage it’s too early to tell anything”,

Moore adds.

To understand the threat B.1.1.529 poses, researchers will be closely tracking its spread in South Africa and beyond. Researchers in South Africa mobilised efforts to quickly study the Beta variant, identified there in late 2020, and a similar effort is starting to study B.1.1.529.

Travellers queue at an area for PCR Covid-19 tests at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27
Travellers queue at an area for PCR Covid-19 tests at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27 Credit: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

On the KLM plane that came in on Saturday at Schiphol, had 13 cases of Omicron among 61 quarantined passengers who tested positive for coronavirus after arriving from South Africa. A Belgian couple that was vaccinated had the male tested positive with the new Omicron disease and was placed in quarantine in a hotel.

The European Union decided very quickly to stop planes and passengers coming in Europe from Southern Africa, because it seems we do have the most mutated form of Covid-19 discovered thus far, with 32 mutations to the spike protein. Scientists are concerned that the mutations may allow it to evade existing vaccines and spread quickly.

Though in England two cases of omicron have been found in the UK, with two people in Essex and Nottinghamshire testing positive for the new variant, but UK officials are busy scouring testing databases for any further sign of the omicron variant, not least because there were many South Africans in the Twickenham area of south-west London for the England and South Africa match last Saturday.

Sajid Javid sayd that despite the return of mask-wearing and PCR tests for travellers, England is “nowhere near” introducing tougher Covid restriction.

British tourists will be admitted to Spain from next month only if they can show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a Spanish government bulletin published on Saturday as the country tightened travel restrictions amid concern about the new Omicron coronavirus variant.



South African Corona variant endangering the world



  1. Ominous signs as virus mutates into a more threatening form
  2. Travellers jump hoops to leave South Africa as Covid variant hits
  3. Netherlands, Australia find omicron variant as curbs spread
  4. Ominous signs as virus mutates into a more threatening form
  5. Retrospective Statistical Analysis Indicates Ivermectin a COVID-19 Stopper in Africa
  6. How deadly is coronavirus? See where COVID-19 ranks among other causes of death
  7. Should I be afraid of the omicron variant?
  8. Coronavirus, Immune system, and Vaccine 
  9. Let’s Talk About Variants – Again!
  10. New Covid variant shuts borders across the globe
  11. The new COVID-19 strain, omicron, explained

Published by Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".

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