Just when we were about to take a sigh of relief over the outbreak of the COVID-19 and its disruption to the world at large, some new strain of the virus called the Omicron variant has been identified, and cases have been reported in the Middle East according to resources.
The Omicron variant which was first identified in South Africa by a South African scientist by the name: Dr Angelique Coetzee has caused another level of panic, especially after its first case was detected in the UAE [United Arab Emirates] barely 24 hours ago.
While we understand you have many questions to this effect, today’s article would address most, if not all of your inquiry on the Omicron variant and the travel policy in the UAE.
What is Omicron Variant?
According to Wikipedia, the Omicron variant is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The variant was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa on the 24th of November 2021.
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What is the new strain of Covid-19 called?
The World Health Organization has named the new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, known as B.1.1.529, as the "Omicron variation" and classed it as a "variant of concern."
Several mutations have been discovered in the Omicron variety, some of which are worrying. According to WHO [World Health Organization], preliminary research suggests that the Omicron variant has a higher risk of reinfection than other" variants of concern.
According to the Dutch public broadcaster NOS, the new variation had been found in at least 18 nations across five continents, while about 10% of the 600 passengers on two quarantined flights out of South Africa have tested positive with some form of the coronavirus. This makes it more sensitive and indeed classed as a “variant of concern”.
What is a variant of concern?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] defines a variant of concern as: "A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease, such as deaths or increased hospitalizations.
If a patient/carrier has a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures, these are classified as a variant of concern.
Types of classification of the Covid-19 variants are:
1. Variant Being Monitored
2. Variant of Interest
3. Variant of Concern
4. A variant of High Consequence
Is there a travel ban policy in the UAE?
Due to the recent spread of the Omicron variants, the Emirates imposed travel restrictions on seven African countries. This was initiated on the 27th of November, 2021 until further notice. So where to start on your Indian adventure? Here’s our India travel guide for first time travelers.
Visitors exiting or transiting, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa, would be denied entry to Dubai.
Is there any case of the Omicron variant in the UAE?
The UAE discovered the first case of the Omicron variant in a female traveller from an African country on the 1st of December. The traveller who was confirmed fully vaccinated has been identified and quarantined with others she had close contact with.
The UAE is the second country after Saudi Arabia in the Middle East to detect the new variant in its region.
What are the symptoms of the Omicron variant?
Although research is still ongoing, and it is quite uncertain the major symptoms that a carrier possesses. Nonetheless, WHO has urged countries to participate in the gathering and exchange of hospitalized patient data using the WHO COVID-19 Clinical Data Platform, which allows clinicians to quickly characterize clinical characteristics and outcomes.
This would aid in determining the phases of the variation as well as the symptoms.
It is therefore advised that people maintain a healthy distance, wear recommended face masks, sanitize where necessary, and cover their mouth with the elbow, should they intend to sneeze or cough out.
What measure is the UAE taking for travellers to curb Omicron spread?
Travellers who were in the countries 14 days before arriving in the UAE have been denied entry. Passengers will continue to be transported from the UAE to the seven nations indicated.
Citizens are not permitted to visit any of the nations unless they require medical treatment, are part of official delegations, or are on a scholarship.
UAE diplomats and delegates must provide a negative Covid-19 test acquired before 48 hours of departure, a Rapid-PCR test obtained at the airport within six hours of departure, and another PCR test performed at the airport upon arrival in the UAE.
The excluded group is subject to a 10-day quarantine and a PCR test on the ninth day of entry. Before continuing their mission in the UAE, official delegations must quarantine at the airport until the results of the test are obtained.
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