Detection of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of SARS-CoV-2 in aircraft wastewater


On the 26th of November 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the newly detected B.1.1.529 lineage of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) the Omicron Variant of Concern (VOC). The genome of the Omicron VOC contains more than 50 mutations, many of which have been associated with increased transmissibility, differing disease severity, and potential to evade immune responses developed for previous VOCs such as Alpha and Delta. In the days since the designation of B.1.1.529 as a VOC, infections with the lineage have been reported in countries around the globe and many countries have implemented travel restrictions and increased border controls in response.  We putatively detected the Omicron variant in an aircraft wastewater sample from a flight arriving to Darwin, Australia from Johannesburg, South Africa on the 25th of November 2021 via positive results on the CDC N1, CDC N2, and del(69–70) RT-qPCR assays per guidance from the WHO. 


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