New findings about the Omicron version of the coronavirus made it clear on Tuesday that the emerging threat slipped past countries in their defense, as two distant countries announced their first cases and a third raised the alarm of South African officials. Notify your presence before ringing.
The RIVM Health Institute in the Netherlands found omicrons in samples from November 19 and 23. The World Health Organization said that South Africa first reported this type to the UN health agency on 24 November. Meanwhile, Japan and France reported its first cases. The new version that has forced the world to pinball between hopes of normalcy once again and fears that the worst is yet to come.
Much is unknown about the new variant, including how contagious it may be, but a WHO official said on Tuesday that infections could soon rise sharply in parts of southern Africa.
It’s unclear where or when the version first emerged, and the Dutch announcement further messed up the timeline. Earlier, the Netherlands said it had found the variant on Friday among travelers from South Africa – but the new cases predate that.
That hasn’t stopped wary countries from rushing to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors from southern Africa.
They also include Canada. Canada’s federal government imposed travel restrictions on Friday in several countries in southern Africa, and more may come. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested on Tuesday that his government was looking “very carefully” at possible next steps, such as more restrictions.
So far, five cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been confirmed in Canada.
Steps by Canada and other countries in similar capacities have been criticized by South Africa and the WHO urged against them given their limited impact.
The latest news, however, made it clear that travel restrictions would struggle to contain the spread of the variant. The Netherlands, Belgium and France have now all reported cases of people who were in their countries before the EU imposed a flight ban.
Japan announced it would ban all foreign visitors from Tuesday – but it was too late. It confirmed its first case that day, a Namibian diplomat who had recently arrived from his country.
Meanwhile, German officials said they had an Omicron infection in a man who was neither abroad nor in contact with anyone.
The WHO warned on Monday that the Granthshala risk from Omicron is “very high”. And early evidence suggests it may be more contagious.
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The rising number of cases attributed to Omicron in Botswana and South Africa suggests it may be the first sign of a “rapid increase”, said Dr. Nikki Gumede-Moeletti told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ,
“There’s a possibility that we’re actually going to have a serious doubling or tripling of cases as we go forward or as the week unfolds,” Gumede-Moeletsi said.
After a period of low transmission in South Africa, new cases began to rise rapidly in mid-November. Currently, the country is confirming about 3,000 new infections per day.
The concentration of Omicron cases among university students in the capital of Pretoria is a particular cause for concern because that group is very sociable – and will soon be leaving for their homes at the end of the year and reuniting with friends and family.
Doctors in South Africa are reporting that patients are so far mostly suffering from mild symptoms, but many of them are young adults who do not usually fall ill with COVID-19 like older patients.
Still, many officials tried to allay fears, insisting that vaccines are the best defense and that the world should redouble its efforts to get shots in every part of the world.
The head of the European Medicines Agency, Emer Cook, stressed that the 27-nation EU is well prepared for the version. Although it is not known how effective current vaccines are against Omicron, Cook said the shots could be adapted within three or four months if needed.
The latest version makes vaccination efforts even more important, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, noting that “as long as the virus is replicating somewhere, it can mutate.”
In the face of the new version, some introduced new measures aimed at reducing the spread.
England made face coverings compulsory again on public transport and in shops, banks and hairdressers. And a month before Christmas, the head of the UK’s Health Protection Agency, Jenny Harries, urged people not to socialize if they don’t need to.
And with the Summer Games already postponed by a year due to COVID-19, Olympic organizers were starting to worry about February’s Winter Games in Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Omicron “will certainly bring some challenges in terms of prevention and control.”
Every piece of medical news, be it worrying or reassuring, was eyeing every piece of medical news in the world markets.
Granthshala stocks fell mostly on Tuesday as investors carefully weighed how much damage Omicron could do to the Granthshala economy.
Some analysts believe that a severe economic slowdown, as happened last year, could be averted as many people have been vaccinated. But they also think that the return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, especially in tourism, has been dramatically delayed.
In a world that is already troubled by the more infectious Delta variant that fills hospitals…