Growing health concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron Variant

Coronavirus Local Impact

Springfield, Mass. (WWLP) – There are growing concerns around the world about a new COVID-19 variant that was first detected in South Africa.

As of this past Friday, the CDC says so far there are no confirmed cases of this variant identified here in the United States.

The newly identified Omicron Variant was first detected in South Africa which has raised health concerns due to the rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the country. The World Health Organization has classified it as a variant of concern due to it having a large number of mutations.

Global health experts say it’s not clear whether the variant will make people sicker, or whether current vaccines will be effective against it.

Within Massachusetts data shows a trend earlier this month that there has been a slight increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

22News also spoke with an infectious disease specialist from Baystate Health earlier this week and he told us so far data has only shown COVID-19 cases here in Massachusetts are related to the Delta Variant.

Travelers are scrambling to get back home from South Africa as some countries are already imposing restrictions from the region due to the new variant. Flyers at an airport in South Africa were trying to make it back to their home countries before travel bans took place.

Great Britain, which has confirmed two cases of the variant, has already banned flights from South Africa and its neighboring countries. While the variant was first detected in South Africa, it has since been discovered in Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium.

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