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’New’ Covid-19 variant detected in France was discovered before Omicron

An Indian health worker collects a swab sample of a passenger who arrived from Bangalore by a train for the Covid-19 test following the detection of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the state of Karnataka, at Chennai Central railway station, in Chennai, India, in December 2021. Photo: IDREES MOHAMMED

An Indian health worker collects a swab sample of a passenger who arrived from Bangalore by a train for the Covid-19 test following the detection of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the state of Karnataka, at Chennai Central railway station, in Chennai, India, in December 2021. Photo: IDREES MOHAMMED

Published Jan 5, 2022

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REPORTS on the “new” Covid-19 variant first discovered in France have been sweeping worldwide, causing panic among many.

The variant that is now known as the IHU variant was found to have infected 12 people living near Marseilles in southern France. The earliest case was from a resident who had just arrived from a three-day trip in Cameroon, West Central Africa.

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According to media reports, the IHU variant is said to have at least 46 mutations.

Epidemiologist Marcel Salathé sedated worldwide panic over the IHU variant.

“I have to say that at this point, I am not particularly concerned (with the IHU variant) because, interestingly, it actually predates Omicron. It’s only the media that’s now picking up on it because there have been pre-prints that have been coming out in the past few days. But it was actually discovered before Omicron,” Salathé said.

“It is good to keep an eye out on it, but certainly there is no reason to panic,” he added.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the IHU variant was first discovered last November.

In a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, the WHO incident manager on Covid-19, Abdi Mahamud, said the variant was on their radar. They are continuing their investigations on its severity.

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