As the world is eager to learn more, more omicron cases appear

On Sunday, cases of the omicron variant of the new coronavirus appeared in countries around the world. Although scientists warned that it is unclear whether this new variant is more worrying than other versions of the virus, many governments are still eager to close borders.

Researchers in South Africa discovered the variant a few days ago, but there is still a lot of knowledge about it, including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious disease, or better able to evade vaccine protection. But many countries are eager to act, reflecting concerns about the possible prolongation of any pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people.

Israel has decided to ban foreigners from entering the country, and Morocco has stated that it will suspend all inbound flights for two weeks starting from Monday-this is the most stringent of the increasing travel restrictions imposed by countries all over the world in scrambling to slow the spread of this variant. . From Hong Kong to Europe, scientists in many places have confirmed its existence. The Netherlands reported 13 omicron cases on Sunday, and Canada and Australia both detected 2 cases.

Noting that this variant has been found in many countries and closing borders usually has limited effect, the World Health Organization has called for borders to remain open.

At the same time, Dr. Francis Collins, Dean of the National Institutes of Health, emphasized that there is currently no data showing that the new variant causes more serious illness than the previous COVID-19 variant.

“When you look at the speed of its spread in many parts of South Africa, I do think it is more contagious. So it has the characteristics of being particularly likely to spread from one person to another…. We don’t know if it can be transmitted from one person to another. Compete with Delta,” Collins said in CNN’s “State of the Union Address.”

Collins responded to the views of several experts, saying that this news should make everyone redouble their efforts to use the tools available in the world, including measures such as vaccination, enhanced injections and wearing masks.

Collins said: “I know, America, you are really tired of hearing these things, but the virus has not tired of us.”

The Dutch public health authorities confirmed that 13 people who arrived from South Africa on Friday have so far tested positive for omicron. Before the flight ban, 61 people tested positive for the virus after they arrived on the last two flights to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. They were immediately quarantined, most of them in a nearby hotel.

The Minister of Health of Canada stated that the first two omicron cases in Canada were found in Ontario, after two people who had recently travelled from Nigeria tested positive.

Australian authorities said that two travelers who arrived in Sydney from Africa became the country’s first people to test positive for the new variant. Tourists from nine African countries must now be quarantined in hotels upon arrival. A total of three cases of returning travelers were reported in two German states over the weekend.

Israel has taken action to ban the entry of foreigners and requires all Israelis arriving from abroad to be quarantined.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting: “Limiting the country’s borders is not an easy step, but it is a temporary and necessary step.”

The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter on Sunday that it will suspend all air travel to this North African country in order to “maintain Morocco’s achievements in fighting the pandemic and protect the health of citizens.” Morocco has always been among the most vaccinated in Africa. Frontier and closed borders for months in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The United States plans to ban travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries from Monday. “This will give us some time to strengthen our preparations,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said of the ban on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Many countries are implementing such bans, even though they violate WHO recommendations, which have warned against overreaction until the variant is thoroughly studied.

According to a statement from the White House Sunday evening, Fauci said that it will take about two weeks to obtain clearer information about the communicability, severity, and other characteristics of omicron.

The South African government responded angrily to the travel ban, saying it “similar to punishing South Africa for its advanced genome sequencing and faster detection of new variants.” It said it would try to persuade the countries that imposed them to reconsider.

The WHO issued a statement stating that it “stands with African countries” and pointed out that travel restrictions may “play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19, but will place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.” It said, If implementation restrictions are in place, they should be scientifically based, not intrusive.

In Europe, officials remain vigilant, most of which have been dealing with a sharp increase in cases in recent weeks.

On Saturday, the United Kingdom tightened its regulations on wearing masks and testing for international immigrants after two omicron cases were detected. However, the British Health Minister Sajid Javid said that the government is away from returning to working at home or adopting stricter regulations. Social distancing measures are still far away.

He told Sky News: “We now know that in terms of non-COVID health outcomes (such as the impact on mental health), these types of measures have indeed paid a heavy price economically and socially.”

Spain announced that from December 1st, it will not accept unvaccinated British tourists. Italy is reviewing the list of airline passengers who have arrived in the past two weeks. France is continuing to promote vaccination and intensified injections.

David Hui, an expert in respiratory medicine and a consultant to the Hong Kong pandemic government, agreed with this strategy.

He said that those two omicron variants who tested positive were vaccinated with Pfizer and showed very mild symptoms, such as a sore throat.

“The vaccine should be effective, but the effectiveness will be reduced,” he said.

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