LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Omicron Coronavirus variant continued spreading around the globe on Sunday with 13 cases in the Netherlands, two each in Denmark, Australia, and two each in Australia. More countries imposed travel restrictions to try and stop the spread of the virus.
The Dutch health authorities confirmed that the variant was discovered in 13 cases among passengers on two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday.
Authorities had already tested more than 600 passengers on the two flights and found 61 coronavirus cases. They then proceeded to test for the new variant.
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“It is not unlikely more cases will appear in the Netherlands,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told a news conference in Rotterdam. “This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg.”Continue reading
Omicron’s discovery, also known as a “variant of concern”The World Health Organization raised concerns last week that the virus could resist vaccinations and prolong COVID-19’s nearly two-year-old pandemic.
It was first discovered in South Africa. Now it is being detected in Britain, Germany and Italy as well as Israel, Australia, Australia, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands.
Omicron could be more contagious than other variants, but it is not clear if it causes more severe COVID-19 than other strains.
To stem the spread of the virus, many countries have placed travel bans and curbs on southern Africa. Friday’s financial markets plunged as investors worried about the possibility of a global recession. Oil prices dropped by around $10 per barrel.
South African doctor who first suspected a different strain of coronavirus said that symptoms of Omicron variant were mild and could be treated at home.
Angelique Coetzee of South African Medical Association told Reuters she noticed seven patients at the clinic with symptoms different to the dominant Delta variant on Nov. 18. “very mild”. Continue reading
Two new cases were reported by Denmark on Sunday. Officials in Australia confirmed that two South African travelers had been affected. Officials in Denmark also reported two cases of the variant in two travellers from South Africa. Officials in Australia stated that two passengers from South Africa arrived in Sydney and tested positive for the variant.
Israel announced late Saturday that it would ban all foreigners from entering its territory and reintroduce counterterrorism phone tracking technology to stop the spread of the variant.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban would last 14 days, subject approval by the government. Officials hope to have more information about Omicron’s effectiveness within the 14-day period. Continue reading
Anthony Fauci (the top U.S. official for infectious diseases), stated that Americans should be prepared to combat the spread of the new variant. However, it was unclear what measures such mandates or lockdowns would need to be taken. Although no confirmed cases have been reported, he stated that the variant is likely to be present in the country. Continue reading
Britain’s Omicron linked cases, which were discovered Saturday, were connected to travel to south Africa. The government announced measures to control the spread of the disease, including tighter testing for those arriving in the country and the requirement to wear masks in certain settings.
Sajid Javid, British health minister, said Sunday that he would be receiving advice soon on whether the government could expand a programme providing booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals. This was to lessen the impact of this variant. Continue reading
TRAVEL BANS CRITERICS
Omicron can be prevented by travel restrictions, according to epidemiologists. However, there have been many countries, including the United States, Brazil and Canada, as well as nations of the European Union, Australia, Japan and South Korea, that have placed travel restrictions or bans on South African and other southern African countries.
These restrictions were imposed by more countries on Sunday, including Indonesian and Saudi Arabia.
South African officials have condemned the travel restrictions as unfair and potentially detrimental to their economy. They also said that they are being punished for their scientific ability to identify coronavirus variants in time.
Matshidiso Mottei, WHO Regional Director for Africa, also criticized some travel bans that target African countries as divisive and urged countries not to ignore science and international health regulations when making decisions.
“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,”In a statement, she stated.
“COVID-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.”
Hugo Lopez Gatell, Mexico’s deputy secretary of health, stated that travel restrictions are ineffective and that some countries have taken other measures. “disproportionate”.
Omicron was discovered as many countries across Europe are struggling with an increase in COVID-19 infections. Some have reintroduced social restrictions to try and stop the spread.
The new variant has also highlighted huge disparities worldwide in vaccination rates. According to medical rights groups and human rights groups, while many developed countries give third-dose boosters to their citizens, less than 7% have received their first COVID-19 shot.
Seth Berkley is the CEO of GAVI Vaccine Alliance, which, along with the WHO, co-leads COVAX Initiative to promote equitable distribution of vaccines. He spoke to Reuters on Saturday.
“As long as large portions of the world’s population are unvaccinated, variants will continue to appear, and the pandemic will continue to be prolonged.”
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Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Dan Williams, Melanie Burton, Kevin Yao and George Obulutsa. Susan Heavey, Promit Mokherjee, and Reuters bureaus.
Frances Kerry writes
Editing by Mark Heinrich. Raissa Kazolowsky. Angus MacSwan.
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