The new Omicron variant is causing great concern around the world. Appeared for the first time in South Africa, the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has crossed all borders (cases discovered in France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong …), pushing the governments to take restrictive measures to protect their populations. Morocco has done the same.
Despite the stabilization of its epidemiological situation, Morocco has decided to anticipate things by taking a battery of measures to avoid the introduction of the Omicron variant on its territory. Indeed, Morocco decided, Sunday, November 28, to suspend all direct passenger flights to the Kingdom, for a period of two weeks, from this Monday, November 29, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
A measure deemed ” severe »By citizens, in particular tourism professionals who were hoping for a way out of the crisis with this holiday season which is experiencing the influx of foreign tourists. But the health crisis and the spread of the new variant oblige it, explains the Interministerial Committee in a press release.
To better understand this decision “sudden” and “hard»Taken by Morocco on the eve of the end of year celebrations and which has a considerable impact on Moroccans,MoroccoLatestNewsspoke with Dr Tayeb Hamdi, physician and researcher in health policies and systems who believes that the variant is brand new and needs more data on hand to better understand it.
“It is a variant of which we do not know the rate of transmissibility, virulence, and its possible resistance to the vaccine. It takes at least two weeks to find out if it is resistant to the vaccine or not and to what degree. We need two weeks of study and work in the laboratories to have the preliminary answers“, Says the specialist.
Faced with this new Omicron variant, scientists fear an increase in severe cases or even larger deaths compared to the Delta variant. “It is therefore an equation with multiple unknowns», Underlines Dr Hamdi who indicates that it is necessary to wait for the first answers, especially as regards the resistance of the variant to the vaccine, since it is a key question for the management of this variant and the continuation of the pandemic.
First data not to be overlooked
“We have some data that emerges. This may be a variant that affects unvaccinated people more. It would also be more virulent and transmissible in young people. But it’s hard to deal with all of your strangers right now. The best is to protect our health system, our population and our country while waiting to see more clearly, to avoid escalating measures in Morocco.», Recommends Dr Hamdi.
According to the specialist, “heit is better to impose strict measures at the border than at the national level», Noting that this is an opportunity to remind the population of the importance of barrier gestures with the appearance of this new variant, and especially to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“The data on this new variant, which are not confirmed or definitive, indicate that it would be more transmissible than the Delta variant given the number of contaminations recorded in South Africa. It only affects unvaccinated people, according to initial findings. The overwhelming majority of people with this variant are not vaccinated. Two-thirds are not vaccinated at all and the overwhelming majority of the remaining third have received a single dose, hence the value of being vaccinated ”, says Dr Hamdi.
Regarding the virulence of this variant, the specialist indicates that the data are not sufficient to draw conclusions. But some observations of doctors and teachers in South Africa have shown that young people are affected the most, which is normal, believes Dr Hamdi, since young people are the ones who move the most and do not respect the barrier measures. “But this is not a reason to judge on the transmissibility of the variantHe said.
That said, doctors in South Africa have raised that they are getting more and more young people infected with the new variant with moderate to severe forms of covid-19 compared to Delta. “These are the first findings and not confirmed studies. But this is data to be taken seriously», Concludes the specialist.