Omnicron variant triggers scramble to impose travel curbs: Live

1 month ago 17

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A new variant of the coronavirus has prompted several countries to impose restrictions such as travel bans, while others have renewed lockdowns over the Omicron strain.

The new restrictions come after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new COVID-19 variant to be “of concern”.

The Omicron variant, which scientists say has a high number of mutations, was first detected in South Africa last week and has spread rapidly through the province of Gauteng, home to the economic hub Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.

It has so far been detected in at least four other countries.

Also known as B.1.1.529, the mutations could help the virus evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, according to scientists.

It could take weeks to know if current vaccines are less effective against it.

In response to the variant’s discovery, the United States, Canada, Russia and a host of other countries joined the European Union in restricting travel for visitors from several southern African countries.

Here are the latest updates:


19 seconds ago (09:01 GMT)

Japan tightening border controls on three more African countries

Japan will tighten border controls for the southern African nations of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, requiring a 10-day quarantine for any entrants, the Foreign Ministry.

The new rules will take effect from midnight (15:00 GMT on Saturday) and come a day after Japan tightened border controls for those arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho.


22 mins ago (08:39 GMT)

Travellers from South Africa in Netherlands positive for COVID-19

Dutch health authorities said that 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for COVID-19, and they were conducting further testing early Saturday to see if any of the infections are with the Omicron variant.

“Travelers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol,” health authorities said in a statement.

“Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.”

The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday.


49 mins ago (08:12 GMT)

Sri Lanka bans travellers from six African nations

Sri Lanka said it was barring travellers from six Southern African countries on Saturday over concerns about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

From Monday, travellers will not be allowed into the country from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini, Colombo said in a statement.

Travellers who arrived from these six countries over the past two days will have to undergo mandatory 14 days quarantine.


51 mins ago (08:10 GMT)

Thailand bans entry from eight African countries

Thailand said it would ban the entry of people travelling from eight African countries it designated as high-risk for the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Starting in December, travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will be prohibited, senior health official Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference.

Thailand will not allow travellers from these countries to register to travel to Thailand starting on Saturday, he said.

“We have notified airlines and these countries,” Opas said adding that travellers from other African countries will not be allowed to use the country’s quarantine-free travel scheme for vaccinated travellers.


52 mins ago (08:09 GMT)

South African scientists brace for wave propelled by Omicron

South Africa’s numbers are still relatively low, with 2,828 new confirmed cases recorded on Friday, but Omicron’s speed in infecting young South Africans has alarmed health professionals.

“We’re seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of patients with COVID-19,” Dr Rudo Mathivha, the head of the intensive care unit at Soweto’s Baragwanath Hospital, told an online press briefing.

“Young people, in their 20s to just over their late 30s, are coming in with moderate to severe disease, some needing intensive care. About 65 percent are not vaccinated and most of the rest are only half-vaccinated,” said Mathivha.

She said urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potentially large influx of patients needing intensive care.

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Fast Legal Services in Dubai

Fast Legal Services in Dubai