A corporate Christmas party in Norway turned into an Omicron “super spreader event,” with up to 60 people possibly infected, officials say.
The outbreak has become the biggest outside of South Africa, where researchers first detected the new coronavirus variant.
“This party has been a super spreader event,” Preben Aavitsland, a senior physician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, told Reuters.
“Our working hypothesis is that at least half of the 120 participants were infected with the Omicron variant during the party. This makes this, for now, the largest Omicron outbreak outside South Africa.”
The party on November 26 was organized by renewable energy company Scatec, which also has operations in South Africa.
At least one person who attended the party had recently returned from South Africa, according to multiple reports.
All attendees were fully vaccinated and had tested negative before the event, Reuters said.
Fifty people who attended the party had positive PCR tests for coronavirus, while another ten have tested positive on lateral flow tests, according to the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK.
After sequencing, health authorities have confirmed that 13 of the cases were the Omicron variant, and more are expected to be confirmed, Reuters reported.
“It is still too early to say whether the clinical picture of the disease is different in Omicron infections than in Delta infections,” Aavitsland told the outlet.
“None of the patients has severe symptoms; none is hospitalized. However, this is not unexpected given the young age of the participants.”
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the Omicron variant had been found in 23 countries worldwide.
Experts have said that most of the reported variant cases have been mild so far but that it’s too early to know how the variant will affect hospitalization rates and deaths globally.