First reported in South Africa, better known as Omicron, is now a Variant of Concern (VOC). The virus has made its way to several countries including Europe, France, Canada, India, the UK among others. UAE has also reported its first confirmed case of Omicron on 1st November.
With the coming of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, which has caused travel bans and additional restrictions in several countries across the world, nations have quickly responded to assure early detection and precaution. Several precautions, in addition to strict screening at all major airports, are being undertaken.
Here’s a rundown of everything we know at the moment.
The Omicron variant is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. On November 24, 2021, South Africa was the first to report it to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recognized it as a VOC on November 26, 2021, and termed it after Omicron, the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet.
The variant contains an exceptionally large number of mutations, most of which are novel, and a great number of which impact the spike protein targeted by the majority of COVID-19 vaccines at the time the Omicron variant was discovered. Because of this degree of variation, there are worries about its transmissibility, immune system evasion, and vaccine resistance. As a result, the variation was soon classified as “of concern”, and some nations imposed travel restrictions in an effort to curb its international spread.
By December 7, 2021, the variation had spread to over 50 nations. It is important to note several studies are still underway, and the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) will continue to study this variant.
The rapid ascent of Omicron in South Africa is what researchers are most concerned about since it implies the variation might induce a spike of COVID-19 cases worldwide. South Africa registered 8,561 cases on December 1st, a surge from the 3,402 reported on November 26th as well as several hundred each day in mid-November.
According to the latest findings, WHO Emergencies Director Michael Ryan said that the variant is rapidly transmitting and possibly transmitting more efficiently than Delta, but it does not imply the virus is uncontrollable.
It is uncertain if the infection with Omicron leads to more serious issues than from other variants like Delta. Preliminary evidence shows that hospitalization rates are increasing in South Africa, however, this might be due to an increase in the general number of persons being infected, rather than a particular infection with Omicron. There is presently no evidence that symptoms related to Omicron vary from those associated with other variants. Determining the severity of the Omicron would still take a little while.
However, prevention is recommended, because all COVID-19 variations can cause serious conditions or deaths.
Current vaccinations are believed to protect from severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by Omicron variant infection. Breakthrough infections are more likely in those who have been completely vaccinated. The recent outbreak of Omicron highlights the necessity of vaccination and booster injections.
In order to keep yourself and your family safe against the new variant, follow these measures:
Vaccines continue to be the most effective public health strategy for protecting against all variants of COVID-19, slowing transmission, and reducing the possibility of new variants arising. COVID-19 vaccinations are extremely successful at averting serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
Masks provide protection against all variants. Regardless of the vaccination status, the WHO continues to recommend wearing a mask in public, especially in regions with significant or high community transmission, or even indoors when physical distancing is not feasible.
Prevent close contact with those who appear to be sick. It’s important to remember that even persons who don’t have symptoms may be able to transfer the virus. Therefore, it is important to maintain a distance of 6 feet wherever possible.
Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after being in a public area or after clearing your nose, sneezing, or coughing. Clean and disinfect exposed surfaces on a regular basis.
Refrain from stepping out if not needed. Avoid crowded areas and poorly ventilated places. If you cannot prevent overcrowded or indoor places, open a window to maximize the flow of natural ventilation and wear a mask.
Omicron, the most recent Covid-19 variant, has spread to over 50 nations worldwide. As a result, many governments have imposed further limits on foreign visitors in order to keep the latest strain in check.
Because UAE is home to approximately 200 nationalities, people travel to other regions across the world for recreation, business, or family trips. With the holiday season drawing near, you should be informed of new travel regulations in order to have a pleasant travel experience.
All UAE citizens can travel to Dubai without gaining approval from GDRFA or ICA. However, residents traveling from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia will require permission to travel. Passengers traveling from these countries must also present a printed negative result of a COVID‑19 RT PCR test issued within 48 hours of the time the sample was collected at an approved health facility. They must also submit a negative result (with a QR code) of a rapid PCR test performed at the departure airport within six hours before departure.
Passengers traveling to Dubai who have visited or transited through Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, or Zimbabwe in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter Dubai.
Passengers from other countries should have a negative COVID19 RT PCR test certificate for a test performed no more than 72 hours prior to departure.
All passengers (residents and tourists) arriving in Dubai from Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, will be required to take another COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai’s airports.
Passengers will only be required to do COVID19 RT PCR testing if the country to which they are traveling requires it. Residents of Dubai do not require permission from the Dubai government to leave Dubai.
Please verify the regulations of the nation you intend to travel to. The rules and regulations governing travel change on a regular basis. Before you go, you may be required to do a COVID19 PCR test or another sort of COVID19 test as indicated by your destination. Except for children below the age of one, all travelers traveling to China must obtain a negative rapid COVID19 test certificate before departure.
Our knowledge about the new variant is scarce at this moment. As various studies are underway, we need to be patient and wait for more information on Omicron and its effects. Meanwhile, follow Covid appropriate behavior and ensure that you and your family are vaccinated against the virus.
First reported in South Africa, better known as Omicron, is now a Variant of Concern (VOC)
By December 7, 2021, the variant had spread to over 50 nations
UAE Government recommends taking preventive measures, because all COVID-19 variations, including Omicron, can cause serious conditions or deaths
WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is still studying this variant
There is presently no evidence that symptoms related to Omicron vary from those associated with other variants
Current vaccinations are believed to protect from severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by Omicron variant