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The head of the European Union's public health agency said on Tuesday that 42 cases of infection with the COVID-19 Omicron variant have been confirmed in ten EU countries.
Andrea Ammon, who chairs the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), told an online conference that authorities in the EU were analysing another six "probable" cases, noting that confirmed cases were mild or without symptoms.
The COVID-19 Omicron variant was detected in the Netherlands before two flights arrived from South Africa last week carrying the virus, Dutch health officials said on Tuesday.
At least 14 people on flights from Johannesburg and Capetown arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Nov. 26 carrying the new variant, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said.
Picture used for illustrative purposes only.
"We have found the Omicron coronavirus variant in two test samples that were taken on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23," the RIVM said. "It is not clear yet whether these people have visited Southern Africa."
The discovery of Omicron has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic.
Airline bosses voiced concern on Tuesday that travel restrictions linked to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus risked blowing an industry recovery off course.
The strongest warning came from Emirates airline President Tim Clark who said a major hit to the peak December travel season would cause "significant traumas" in the global aviation business.
British budget airline easyJet also spoke of a softening in demand in recent weeks as the resurgence of the virus in parts of continental Europe prompted customers to rethink city break plans.
The discovery of the Omicron variant, first reported in southern African last week, dealt a blow to the industry just as it had recovery in its sights, especially following the easing of U.S.-bound travel earlier in November.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
It could take "days to several weeks" to understand the level of severity of the variant, says the World Health Organisation (WHO), which flagged Omicron as a "variant of concern".
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that deciding the severity level of Omicron, identified first in South Africa, could take "days to several weeks" in the absence of information that its symptoms differed from those of other variants.
Most people recover within a few weeks, and monkeypox has only been fatal in rare cases.
It is noteworthy that the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the seriousness of the disease after it was detected in a number of countries, and the organisation called for a strong tracing of contacts of the infected cases.
Meteorologists had warned that heavy rainfall and hail were expected in western and central Germany on Friday, with storms producing wind gusts up to 130 kph (81 mph). Storms on Thursday had already disrupted traffic, uprooted trees that toppled onto rail tracks and roads, and flooded hundreds of basements in western Germany.
These included Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria; Jo?o Lourenço, President of Angola; Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana; Mohamed Hussein Robley, Prime Minister of Somalia, and His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.