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HealthMin Rafila: We need to take temporary measures until we find out what is with the strain

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Alexandru Rafila

Health Minister Alexandru Rafila said on Sunday, after the first two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant were confirmed in Romania the previous day, that temporary measures may be necessary to contain the virus.

"We will make a quick analysis of the situation and of the possible measures that can be taken to contain - we cannot eradicate - but to limit the possibility that this strain will spread quickly in Romania. There is an important thing to know: we have to take measures that may be temporary until we find out what this strain is all about. Apart from the fact that it is more communicable, we have very little information about the clinical course of patients infected with this strain and the efficacy of the immune response after disease or vaccination against this new strain," the minister said at a news conference.

According to Rafila, the two people confirmed with the Omicron variant have minor symptoms. He said he is optimistic about the health prospects of the two Romanians.

"What we can say as good news is that in the case of the two people who were diagnosed with this strain the symptoms are minor, and one of them is even asymptomatic. There are no particular problems. It is true that they were vaccinated, but that only argues for the usefulness of vaccination, which provides protection, even if the disease occurs. In the case of vaccinated people, it seems that the clinical evolution is favourable and often goes unnoticed. (...) The person of Barlad, she has no symptoms at all, while the other has small complaints of a sore throat. It looks like common cold, even from her reports. They will continue to be in isolation for 14 days," said Rafila.

He added that during the meeting at the Government House, several scenarios will be presented and recommendations will be put forward to contain the Omicron variant in Romania.

He added that another important criterion is the applicability of such recommendations.

"We will analyse things in a European context; we have a report from the Foreign Ministry (MAE) on various measures implemented in other countries in the European space. We are trying to contain or delay - because that is what we are talking about - and we have to be realistic. There are probably other cases of this strain in Romania. Just think that many people who had probably come from South Africa entered before the [November] 24. We cannot rule that out. It is important - and everyone agrees at European or WHO level - that the measures taken are to slow down transmission, not to eliminate transmission, and that is seen in the fact that the vast majority of European countries have had such cases," said Rafila.

Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca was scheduled to hold a working meeting on Sunday at the Government House with the main officials responsible for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic - Minister of Health Alexandru Rafila; head of the Emergency Management Department (DSU) Raed Arafat; director of the National Centre for Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases with the National Public Health Institute Adriana Pistol - following two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the country.

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