The omicron variant stored a jittery world off-kilter early on Thursday (NZT) as South Korea recognized its first circumstances and new proof made clear the mutant coronavirus pressure was circulating weeks sooner than thought.
South Korea on Wednesday (native time) confirmed 5 circumstances of omicron in folks linked to arrivals from Nigeria, prompting the federal government to tighten the nation’s borders.
The Korea Illness Management and Prevention Company mentioned the circumstances embody a pair who arrived from Nigeria on November 24 and a pal who drove them residence from the airport. The 2 different circumstances had been ladies who additionally travelled to Nigeria and returned to South Korea on November 23.
Following the affirmation of the omicron infections, South Korea introduced it should require all passengers arriving from overseas over the subsequent two weeks to quarantine for at the very least 10 days, no matter their nationality or vaccination standing.
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The nation had already banned short-term international travellers arriving from eight southern African nations, together with South Africa, beginning Sunday to fend off omicron, which is seen as probably extra infectious than different variations of the virus. Officers say the identical guidelines will now be prolonged to foreigners coming from Nigeria.
That information got here as Nigeria detected its first case of the omicron coronavirus variant in travellers that arrived from South Africa prior to now week, and Ghana introduced its scientists had detected circumstances of the omicron coronavirus variant in passengers who arrived within the nation on November 21.
Little identified about omicron
A lot remains to be unknown concerning the new variant, together with how contagious it’s and whether or not it might probably evade vaccines, and the European Union chief acknowledged that ready for scientists to inform the world extra felt like “an eternity”.
It has sparked grave fears worldwide, showing at a time when many countries, particularly in Europe, are nonetheless coping with a surge in infections and hospitalizations from the delta variant.
Many international locations around the globe have barred travellers from southern Africa, and the US is transferring to toughen testing necessities for worldwide arrivals.
Japan has continued its aggressive stance, asking worldwide airways to cease taking new reservations for all flights arriving within the nation till the top of December.
The transfer by the world’s third-largest financial system, coupled with its latest return to a ban on international guests, is among the many most extreme anyplace, and extra in step with cloistered neighbour China than with another democracies within the area.
South African researchers alerted the World Well being Organisation to omicron final week, however it’s not identified the place or when the variant first emerged, and it is already clear it was circulating in Europe earlier than that alert.
The fear and uncertainty concerning the new variant and the typically haphazard imposition of restrictions recalled the early days of the pandemic, as did the acquainted realisation that the virus had as soon as once more outpaced efforts to comprise it.
“I hearken to my scientists, all of them say we have no idea sufficient now. Subsequently, it’s good that they take their two to 3 weeks,” mentioned European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen.
“That is, in regular occasions, a brief interval. In pandemic occasions, it’s an eternity.”
Some progress made
In Singapore, which is attempting a method of dwelling with Covid-19 and has one of many world’s main vaccine programmes, circumstances at the moment are dropping quickly, and there’s cautious optimism that its extensively watched plan has helped it flip a nook within the pandemic.
Fiji welcomed again its first vacationers in additional than 600 days on Wednesday after pushing forward with reopening plans regardless of the risk posed by omicron.
Dr Anthony Fauci, america’ prime infectious illness skilled, mentioned way more can be identified about omicron within the subsequent a number of weeks, and “we’ll have a a lot better image of what the problem is forward of us”.