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COVID-19: New omicron variant triggers global concern

The United States on Friday restricted travelers from Southern Africa to slow the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

A World Health Organization panel named the variant “omicron and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern.

Report says is still a scourge driving higher cases of sickness and death in Europe and parts of the United States.

United States President, Joe Biden issued a declaration on Friday making the travel prohibition official, with exceptions for its citizens and permanent residents and for several other categories, including spouses and other close family.

The White House says the United State will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region beginning Monday.

”In announcing new travel restrictions, he told reporters, “I’ve decided that we’re going to be cautious.” President Biden stated.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement says South Africa is being punished for discovering Omicron, a concerning new variant of Covid-19.

Early evidence suggests Omicron has a higher re-infection risk.

Hundreds of passengers arriving in the Netherlands from South Africa are being tested for the new variant.

BBC reports that about 61people on two KLM flights tested positive for Covid-19 and have been quarantined at a hotel near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport while they have further tests, Dutch officials said.

The Netherlands is currently struggling with a record-breaking surge in cases as partial lockdown comes into force there on Sunday evening.

The new Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa on 24 November.

Australia announced on Saturday that flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique would be suspended for 14 days.

Japan has announced that from Saturday, travellers from much of southern Africa will need to quarantine for 10 days and take a total of four tests during that time

India has ordered more rigorous screening and testing for travellers arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong

Canada is barring all foreign nationals who have travelled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique in the last 14 days.

Canada enacts travel restrictions for southern Africa due to the new Omicron variant.