Puerto Vallarta airport reinforces health security on news of Omicron

At least 2 positive cases of the new variant of the Ómicron coronavirus have already been confirmed in Brazil and more in Canada and several European Union countries. As a result, the International Health staff at the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and Puerto Vallarta redouble health security to detect individuals who may enter the city with the new variant.

The reinforcement of health security at the airport was confirmed by the director of the 8th health region Jaime Álvarez Zayas, who explained the reinforcement includes a greater diagnosis in passengers for the detection of possible cases and preventing the entry of infected people.

“Right now with the season and by the end of the year, the possibility of being infected increases and with the presence of the omicron variant, the health security has been redoubled and the International Health staff is already carrying out greater monitoring and diagnoses in passengers, both at the airport and in the port,” explained the health officer in the region.

The new variant of the coronavirus was discovered in South Africa and although the severity has not been determined, it is pointed out that it is a variant of concern, the health authorities call to take it with caution, above all not to lower our guard in terms of the biosecurity measures implemented during the pandemic.

Current knowledge about Omicron

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.

Transmissibility: It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.

Severity of disease: It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants. Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks. All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.

Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection

Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited. More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks.

Effectiveness of vaccines: WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines. Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death.

Effectiveness of current tests: The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.

Effectiveness of current treatments: Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.

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