Omicron Was in the Netherlands Five Days Before South Africa Alerted the WHO About It

People walk past restaurants and bars as the Netherlands battles to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Amsterdam, Netherlands October 14 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Omicron was already in the Netherlands five days before South Africa alerted the World Health Organisation about it last week, Dutch health authorities have revealed.

The RIVM health institute found the mutant Covid strain in samples dating from November 19 and 23.

But the WHO said South Africa first reported the the variant to the UN health agency on November 24 – meaning the new variant was already being transferred around the world before anyone even knew it existed.

The RIVM said the two samples from PCR tests showed an abnormality in their spike protein and were sent to a lab for further studies.

The results have now been returned and confirmed as the Omicron variant.

It is not known whether these earlier cases were identified in travelers who had returned from South Africa, or whether they originated elsewhere.

But it could call into question the origins of the new variant which has led to travel restrictions on certain countries.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jack Newman; The Associated Press