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13 Dec, 2021 15:55

EU estimates number of ‘locally transmitted’ Omicron cases

EU estimates number of ‘locally transmitted’ Omicron cases

The EU’s public health agency has said some 70% of Omicron infections recorded across the 27-nation bloc were transmitted locally, suggesting the highly infectious variant is already spreading rapidly in Europe.

In an update on Monday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that, while Omicron cases were initially linked to travel, most infections of the variant in the EU are now linked to local transmission. 

According to the European Surveillance System, imported or travel-related cases of the Covid strain account for 13% of cases, while 70% of the infections reported in the past 24 hours were acquired locally.

The ECDC noted that some EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries – including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Spain, and Iceland – were reporting cases without a recent travel history or direct contact with travelers. “This indicates that undetected community transmission could be ongoing in the EU/EEA,” the body stated.

The EU public health agency said that all Omicron cases registered had been either asymptomatic or mild, adding that, to date, there had been no deaths from the variant in the bloc. They added that the data should be assessed with caution, however, given the particularly small sample size analyzed so far.

“The number of confirmed cases is too low to understand if the disease clinical spectrum of Omicron differs from that of previously detected variants,” the agency noted.

Earlier on Monday, the UK announced that at least one person there had died from the Omicron variant, and that the reportedly less virulent strain now accounted for 40% of Covid-19 cases in the capital.