Omicron threat prompts Health Board to urge PCR tests for all arrivals

Travelers at Tallinn Airport.
Travelers at Tallinn Airport. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Health Board (Terviseamet) is urging all arrivals in Estonia to get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid test in the wake of the freshly-reported Omicron/B.1.1.529 strain. No cases of the variant have been found in Estonia to date.

Testing will be free and made available to all arrivals in Estonia, while the board recommends vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals alike and regardless of the risk level of the country of origin, take a PCR test.

Health Board acting director Mari-Anne Härma said the measure, instituted Friday, was:  "Precautionary, as there is not yet enough information about the new strain to draw fundamental conclusions. However, it is important to identify new variants as soon as possible, and isolate cases, to prevent the spread of new strains.

No case of the Omicron strain has yet been identified in Estonia, ERR reports, while the majority of cases which are discovered are of the Delta variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is likely to take several weeks to evaluate the transmission of variant B.1.1.529 and the effectiveness of vaccines against the strain.

The new variant, first identified in South Africa on November 24, has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning, WHO says.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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