2021-11-27 17:52


Top medical expert warns of coronavirus variant, stress push for


Chinese top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan warned that the new and more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron, although not much information is available now, may cause more challenges to the work of preventing and controlling the pandemic as the World Health Organization (WHO) said it carries a large number of mutations. 

Zhong made the remarks at a forum on Saturday, noting that vaccination is certainly an efficient way to prevent the virus.  

Zhong noted that about 76.8 percent of China's population has been vaccinated, laying a good basis for the country to reach the target of 80 percent vaccination to build herd immunity by year end. 

The new variant, named Omicron by the WHO was firstly discovered in South Africa. Several other countries and regions including Israel and China's Hong Kong have also identified cases caused by it.

The new variant, which has been called by some Western media as the "worst" new variant of COVID-19, has prompted Germany, Italy and Britain to suspend travel from South Africa, and the European Union is also proposing prohibiting travel from the country and its neighbors, according to media reports.

Stock markets across the world have also fallen sharply after the discovery of the variant. The FTSE 100 index of leading UK shares closed 3.7 percent down. Main markets in Germany, France and the US also sank. Shares in airlines and travel firms were hit hard, with BA-owner IAG and Wizz Air down 15 percent, Tui shed 10 percent as fears have been raised due to the new variant over the resumption of global travel, BBC reported Saturday.

But Chinese experts believe there is no need to panic as the large number of mutations does not necessarily indicate high infectivity, and China, with a strict and experienced epidemic prevention and control system, is able to protect domestic residents from the new variant. 

At current stage, the threat of Omicron to China is less than the epidemic in Inner Mongolia and the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. And, if any dangerous signals are discovered, China can suspend all travel with southern Africa or apply stricter quarantine measures on arrivals from that area, the expert note


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