China says 1st Omicron case ‘imported from Europe’

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Mainland China has reported its first case of the new Omicron Covid variant in the port city of Tianjin, media reports said on Tuesday.

The case is “imported from Europe”, Gu Qing, director of Tianjin Health Commission, was quoted saying in an interview with Chinese Central Television.

The Omicron variant was detected in the respiratory samples of a Polish national who arrived in Tianjin from Warsaw on December 9. The person presented no symptoms and had normal temperature when entering China through Tianjin, the Global Times reported.

After an all sealed-off management, the person has been transferred to a quarantine spot and diagnosed as an asymptomatic case later.

In order to prevent the further spread of Omicron in the city, Tianjin authorities have also planned a special treatment area for Omicron infections with a special medical team.

So far no other Omicron infections were detected among other passengers with the same flight, the report quotes the authorities as saying.

Omicron’s entry into the country is bit different from that of Delta as it was detected at the entry quarantine spot, showing that China’s current epidemic monitoring network is highly effective, Wu Hao, an expert of the community epidemic prevention and control group of the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, China’s cabinet was quoted as saying.

When the Delta variant was found in China, it triggered panic. The scale of transmission of the Delta variant has been even larger than that caused by Omicron. In May, the Delta variant broke through the “defence line” in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong province, and caused a domestic outbreak.

“But the difference now is that the Omicron variant was found in the border entry quarantine point, which showed that our epidemic prevention and control monitoring network responded very quickly,” Hao said.

Earlier China had said that it is ready to tackle the Omicron coronavirus variant, and it is confident that the country’s zero-Covid response along with the mainstream tests will block community transmission.

According to Xu Wenbo, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccines developed in China remain effective against the new mutated variant, yet to better cope it has made technological reserve preparations in vaccine development, Global Times reported.

The country also granted emergency approval to its first-ever antibody cocktail therapy against the virus, which has shown to be effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation or death among high-risk Covid-19 patients by 80 per cent.

The combination therapy, co-developed by Tsinghua University, the Third People’s Hospital of Shenzhen and Brii Biosciences headquartered in China and the US, also retains its neutralising activity against the Omicron variant, the report said.

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