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Wellington infectious disease specialist explains new omicron COVID-19 variant

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 4:56 PM EST
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A new variant of COVID-19 has now been identified and it has a name, omicron.

“This variant was found in Johannesburg area of South Africa over the last few days because what they noticed was a spike in cases, “ says Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist in Wellington.

The World Health Organization picked a Greek letter name for the new variant, which seems to be more transmissible than previous variants.

“The biggest concern could be that it escapes the vaccines that we’ve used so far, that’s not known everything is being looked at,” Dr. Bush says.

Air travel in and out of south African nations is being restricted in Great Britain and other countries.

Still, many health experts say they expect the new strain to reach the US.

Dr. Bush says the COVID virus seems to thrive and mutate more among the unvaccinated.

“This is the most mutant virus, this strain we’re talking about now, that’s been found so far,” he says.

Dr. Bush says vaccines and booster shots remain the best defense and the new strain may prompt a return to pandemic habits of social distancing and mask wearing.

At PBIA on Friday, many arriving passengers said they had already heard the news.

“This is awful,” said Meghan Sadan who was returning to PBIA after a Thanksgiving visit to Maryland,

“Just when we think we gotten through another phase of this and we’re moving into the light,” Sadan says.

“It is a little frustrating and every time we’re hoping the pandemic comes to an end and we see these new variants,” said Kartik Reddy of San Francisco who was arriving to attend a wedding.

“This is the first visit to family and friends since the pandemic started and we’re really excited and it is little scary it is remerging.”

Scripps Only Content 2021