On 26 November 2021, 624 passengers returning from South Africa were tested for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by the GGD Kennemerland. The passengers were tested at Schiphol Airport; 61 of them tested positive for COVID-19. These test samples were sent to RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment for further analysis to determine which variant of the coronavirus was involved. Initial results from genome sequencing showed the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in 13 of the samples from the positive tests. Sequencing has not been completed yet. It is possible that the new variant will be found in more test samples
What is the Omicron variant?
The first cases involving the new variant of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) were reported in South Africa. Since then, this variant has been identified in various locations worldwide. The Omicron variant seems to be spreading rapidly. Similar to other variants, the small changes (mutations) in this new variant seem to be occurring mainly in the lines bristling out from the coronavirus: the spike protein. A striking feature of this variant is that it has an unusually large number of mutations in the spike protein. That includes a number of mutations at locations that may alter the properties of the virus. It is not yet known whether the virus variant also causes people to become more seriously ill from a coronavirus infection. It is not clear at this time how the virus variant will respond to the vaccines currently in use or in people who have previously had a coronavirus infection
National Institute for Public Health
and the Environment
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport