Omicron Was In Netherlands Days Earlier Than First Thought

The arrival lobby of the international terminal is deserted at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Japan confirmed on Tuesday its first case of the new omicron coronavirus variant, a visitor who recently arrived from Namibia, an official said. Japan announced Monday it will suspend entry of all foreign visitors from around the world as a new coronavirus variant spreads (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

(AP) — Dutch health authorities say the omicron variant was already in the Netherlands when South Africa alerted the World Health Organization about it last week.

Tuesday’s announcement is adding to fear and confusion over the new version of the coronavirus in a weary world hoping it had left the worst of the pandemic behind.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute found omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23. The WHO said South Africa first reported the the variant to the U.N. healthy agency on Nov. 24. It remains unclear where or when the variant first emerged — but that hasn’t stopped wary nations from rushing to impose travel restrictions. Much is still not known about the variant — though early evidence suggests it could be more contagious.


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