Home WORLD EUROPA Omicron variant spreads, world isolates southern Africa | Coronavirus

Omicron variant spreads, world isolates southern Africa | Coronavirus

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The detection of this new variant of COVID-19, potentially very contagious and with multiple mutations, was announced Thursday in South Africa.

As for the Belgian case,November, who was not vaccinated “,” text “:” this is someone who came from abroad, tested positive on November 22, who was not vaccinated “}}”>this is someone who came from abroad, tested positive on November 22, who was not vaccinated, announced at the beginning of the afternoon the Belgian Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke. His cabinet clarified that the infected person came from Egypt, had transited through Turkey and arrived on Belgian soil on November 11.

It is a suspect variant, we do not know if it is a very dangerous variant. Do not panic, however warned the minister.

All the same, in the early evening, theEU recommended suspending all travel from South Africa and six other countries in southern Africa.

The countries ofEU must now approve or not this recommendation. The United Kingdom along with several other countries, such as France and the Netherlands, had already banned flights from South Africa and neighboring countries as of midday Friday. Italy, Russia, Switzerland and Cyprus have done the same.

In Germany, where the threshold of 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 was crossed on Thursday, only German citizens will be allowed to return from South Africa from Friday evening, and on the condition of respecting a 14-day quarantine , even if they are vaccinated.

A pilot walks in an airport corridor.

Taking precedence over Europe, the United Kingdom has meanwhile banned flights from South Africa and five neighboring countries from November 26, 2021.

Photo: Getty Images / Leon Neal

Canada and the United States followed Europe, announcing the closure of borders – immediately for Canada, from Monday for the United States – to travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, from Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique. One more country was added to the American list: Malawi. Only nationals of these two countries and their permanent residents will be allowed to enter.

In Asia, Singapore announced a similar ban effective Sunday, except for its nationals and residents.

Japan has for its part decided to tighten its entry restrictions, including 10 days of isolation for people from this area.

Several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, have also announced that they will close their borders to travelers from the region.

Brazil followed suit in the evening.

South Africa protests

The World Health Organization (WHO), which has classified the Omicron variant as worrying, for its part declared on Friday that it was not recommending the implementation of travel restriction measures.

Information on this new variant should make it more evident than ever that this pandemic will not end without vaccination at the global level. The United States has already given more vaccines to other countries than all the other countries combined. It’s time for other countries to do as much as America, claimed US President Joe Biden in a statement.

South Africa reacted by denouncing, through the voice of its Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, the decision unjustified of these countries.

These travel bans are a tragedy for the South African government just before the southern summer, when wildlife parks and hotels normally fill up with tourists. The tourism industry was just beginning to hope for a normal season.

Our immediate concern is the damage this decision will cause to tourism industries and businesses.South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in a statement.

Fears related to this new variant, detected at a time when health restrictions are causing social tensions and mistrust of vaccination persists, have caused oil prices to drop and led to sharp drops in world stock markets.

Frankfurt lost 4.15% at the close, Paris recorded its worst session since March 2020 (-4.75%) and London since June 2020 (-3.64%). Earlier, Tokyo had closed at -2.53%.

Cases in the Middle East and Asia

It will be necessary Several weeks to understand the level of transmissibility and virulence of the new variant detected in South Africa and named B.1.1.529, said a spokesperson for theWHO Friday.

So far, 22 cases have been reported, mostly affecting young people, according to the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). Cases have also been reported in neighboring Botswana and Hong Kong, on a person returning from a trip to South Africa.

Israel has also announced a case of this new variant: this is a person who has returned from Malawi, said the Israeli Ministry of Health, saying it fears two additional cases of persons returning from abroad and placed in containment.

These three people were vaccinated against COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said in its press release, without specifying the number of doses or the type of vaccine.

Europe closes to South Africa due to discovery of new variant

The efficacy of vaccines uncertain

At this point, South African scientists are unsure of the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the new form of the virus.

The new variant, which was first detected in South Africa, has a number extremely high mutations and we can see that it has a potential for very fast spread, explained the virologist Tulio de Oliveira Thursday, during a press briefing of the South African Ministry of Health.

What concerns us is that this variant might not only have an increased transmission capacity, but also be able to bypass parts of our immune system.

A quote from Richard Lessells, professor and researcher

The German laboratory BioNTech, allied with Pfizer, explained to wait at the latest in two weeks the first results of studies which will make it possible to determine whether the new variant detected in South Africa is capable of escaping vaccine protection.

Moderna for its part announced its intention to rapidly develop a vaccine candidate specific to Omicron.

But according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), it is premature to provide an adaptation of the vaccines to this variant.

Almost 54% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but only 5.6% in low-income countries, according to the site Our World in Data.

In South Africa, 23.8% of people are fully vaccinated.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 5.180 million people worldwide since the disease was detected in China at the end of December 2019, according to official figures. THE’WHO estimates, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to COVID-19, that the toll could be two to three times higher.

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