UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron coronavirus variant cases

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Author of the article:


Costas Pitas and Madeline Chambers and Toby Sterling


Publishing date:

Nov 27, 2021  •  19 minutes in the past  •  5 minute learn  • 

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LONDON/BERLIN/AMSTERDAM — Britain, Germany and Italy detected cases of the brand new Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new steps to comprise the virus, whereas extra nations imposed restrictions on journey from southern Africa.

The discovery of the variant has sparked international concern, a wave of journey bans or curbs and a sell-off on monetary markets on Friday as traders anxious that Omicron might stall a worldwide restoration from the practically two-year pandemic.


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The two linked cases of the brand new variant detected in Britain had been related to journey to southern Africa, British well being minister Sajid Javid mentioned.

Speaking later, Johnson laid out measures that included stricter testing guidelines for individuals arriving within the nation however that stopped in need of curbs on social exercise aside from requiring masks sporting in some settings.

“We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result,” Johnson advised a information convention.


People who had come into contact with individuals testing constructive for a suspected case of Omicron must self-isolate for 10 days and the federal government would tighten up the principles on sporting face coverings, Johnson mentioned, including the steps can be reviewed in three weeks.

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The well being ministry within the German state of Bavaria additionally introduced two confirmed cases of the variant. The two individuals entered Germany at Munich airport on Nov. 24, earlier than Germany designated South Africa as a virus-variant space, and had been now isolating, mentioned the ministry, indicating with out stating explicitly that the individuals had traveled from South Africa.

In Italy, the National Health Institute mentioned a case of the brand new variant had been detected in Milan in an individual coming from Mozambique.

Czech well being authorities additionally mentioned they had been inspecting a suspected case of the variant in an individual who hung out in Namibia.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is doubtlessly extra contagious than earlier variants of the illness, though consultants have no idea but if it’ll trigger roughly extreme COVID-19 in comparison with different strains.

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England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Witty, mentioned on the identical information convention as Johnson that there was nonetheless a lot uncertainty round Omicron, however “there is a reasonable chance that at least there will be some degree of vaccine escape with this variant.”

The variant was first found in South Africa and had additionally since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.


Dutch authorities mentioned that 61 out of round 600 individuals who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday had examined constructive for the coronavirus. Health authorities had been finishing up additional checks to see if these cases concerned the brand new variant.

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One passenger who arrived from South Africa on Friday, Dutch photographer Paula Zimmerman, mentioned she examined unfavourable however was anxious for the times to return.

“I’ve been told that they expect that a lot more people will test positive after five days. It’s a little scary the idea that you’ve been in a plane with a lot of people who tested positive,” she mentioned.

Financial markets plunged on Friday, particularly shares of airways and others within the journey sector, as traders anxious the variant might trigger one other surge within the pandemic. Oil costs tumbled by about $10 a barrel.

It might take weeks for scientists to totally perceive the variant’s mutations and whether or not present vaccines and therapies are efficient towards it.

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Although epidemiologists say journey curbs could also be too late to cease Omicron from circulating globally, many nations all over the world – together with the United States, Brazil, Canada and European Union nations – introduced journey bans or restrictions on southern Africa on Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department added on Saturday to Washington’s beforehand introduced journey restrictions, advising towards journey to eight southern African nations.

Also on Saturday, Australia mentioned it might ban non-citizens who’ve been in 9 southern African nations from coming into and would require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian residents coming back from there.

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Japan mentioned it might prolong its tightened border controls to 3 extra African nations after imposing curbs on journey from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho on Friday.

Britain additionally mentioned it was increasing its “red list” to place journey curbs on extra southern Africa nations, whereas South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Oman, Kuwait and Hungary introduced journey restrictions on southern African nations.

South Africa is anxious that the curbs will damage tourism and different sectors of its economic system, the international ministry mentioned on Saturday, including the federal government is participating with nations which have imposed journey bans to steer them to rethink.

Omicron has emerged as many nations in Europe are already battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, and some have re-introduced restrictions on social exercise to attempt to cease the unfold. Austria and Slovakia have entered lockdowns.

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The new variant has additionally thrown a highlight on disparities in how far the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated. Even as many developed nations are giving third-dose boosters, lower than 7% of individuals in low-income nations have obtained their first COVID-19 shot, in accordance with medical and human rights teams.

Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance that with the WHO co-leads the COVAX initiative to push for equitable distribution of vaccines, mentioned this was important to thrust back the emergence of extra coronavirus variants.

“While we still need to know more about Omicron, we do know that 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,” he mentioned in a press release to Reuters.

“We will only prevent variants from emerging if we are able to protect all of the world’s population, not just the wealthy parts.”

(Reporting by Toby Sterling, Bart H. Meijer, Costas Pitas, Promit Mukerjee, Stephanie Nebehay, Madeline Chambers, Robert Muller and Reuters bureaus Writing by Frances Kerry Editing by Alexander Smith and Nick Macfie)

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