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Israeli doctor says he caught Omicron ‘really early’ in London at medical conference

·2-min read
Israeli doctor says he caught Omicron ‘really early’ in London at medical conference

An Israeli doctor who was among the first in the world to become infected with Omicron says he caught it at a major London medical conference.

Elad Maor, a professor of cardiology, believes he caught the new strain at a three day meeting at the ExCeL in east London in November - raising questions over whether the variant was in the UK earlier than thought.

In an interview with the Guardian, the 45-year-old said he arrived in London on November 19 and stayed four nights at an Islington hotel, before heading back to Israel on November 23.

He began experiencing symptoms within days, and tested positive for Omicron on November 27.

Cardiologist Elad Maor (Handout)
Cardiologist Elad Maor (Handout)

“I got the Omicron in London, for sure,” he told the paper. “That is interesting because that was 10 days ago in London – really, really early.”

The incubation period, the time between infection and symptoms, can be up to two weeks.

Working back from the time that a positive result showed up on a PCR test, Maor believes he may have been infected on the last day of the conference.

The father-of-three, who has had three Covid vaccines, said he had probably inadvertently infected a 69-year-old colleague, who has since tested positive for the new strain.

Maor, who is self isolating at his home in Israel, has so far shown mild Covid symptoms, including a fever, muscle ache and a sore throat.

On Wednesday it was revealed Omicron was in Nigeria in October - before the variant was identified and disclosed to the world last week.

In the Netherlands, the mutation was also identified in two test samples taken between November 19 and 23, which is before South Africa first raised the alarm.

Maor, who followed all the rules required for travellers, said he had only praise for the organisers of the PCR London Valves 2021 conference, who asked for proof of vaccination before allowing entry.

The conference was reportedly attended by 1,250 people in person.

A spokesperson for the Europa Group, which organised the conference, told the Guardian its priority was the wellbeing of attendees.

“All protocols mandated by the UK government were put in place,” said a spokesperson.

“Anyone entering the congress centre had to present a valid health pass and were requested to wear a mask.

“Hydro-alcoholic gel and masks were made readily available for all participants and disposal bins for used protective equipment were provided.”

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