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At least 17 suspected Omicron cases after Oslo party

By AFP
03 December 2021   |   4:03 pm
At least 17 people who caught Covid-19 after a Christmas party with more than 100 guests in Oslo last week are suspected of having the Omicron variant, officials said Friday.

Picture taken on December 2, 2021 shows the entrance to the Louise Restaurant & Bar at Aker Brygge in Oslo, Norway. – At least 17 people who came down with Covid-19 after a Christmas party gathering over 100 guests in the restaurant on November 26, 2021 are suspected of having the Omicron variant, city officials said on December 3, 2021. The number is likely to grow as sequencing is carried out on other positive tests from party-goers. (Photo by Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB / AFP) / Norway OUT

At least 17 people who caught Covid-19 after a Christmas party with more than 100 guests in Oslo last week are suspected of having the Omicron variant, officials said Friday.

The number is likely to grow as sequencing is carried out on other positive tests from partygoers.

“So far, 60 people have tested positive (for Covid) with PCR tests, and four with antigen tests,” the city of Oslo said in a statement.

“Seventeen are probably Omicron, but that has yet to be confirmed. So far, one case is confirmed to be Omicron after sequencing.”

The Oslo cluster comes as fears rise that Omicron, which South Africa reported to the World Health Organization on November 24, could be more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines than other strains.

‘No rules broken’
Between 100 and 120 people — all of whom were vaccinated, including one who had recently travelled to southern Africa — had gathered on November 26 for a Christmas party organised by their employer.

“All of them had been vaccinated, none of them had symptoms and they had all done self-tests” before attending the dinner, city health official Tine Ravlo told AFP.

“Everything was done in line with regulations and no rules were broken,” she said.

All of those who have tested positive have so far only had mild symptoms such as headaches, sore throats and coughs, Ravlo said.

Suspicions arose that Omicron was present after some of the tests were screened.

Not all of the tests have been fully analysed through sequencing yet, meaning the number of confirmed cases could grow.

Further results were expected on Friday.

“It is still too early to say whether this event is proof that the Omicron variant is more infectious than the Delta variant,” Preben Aavitsland, a senior official at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, told AFP.

“Super-spreader events also occur with the Delta variant.”

Aavitsland added the outbreak would be the largest of the Omicron variant outside South Africa if the cases were confirmed.

On Thursday, after fears of the suspected cluster emerged, the Norwegian government announced a slew of restrictions in greater Oslo.

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