New Omicron variant sparks global concern

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New Omicron variant sparks global concern

Sept 27, Reuters -- Australia and several other countries joined nations imposing restrictions on travel from southern Africa on Saturday after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant called Omicron sparked global concern and caused a market sell-off.

On Friday, authorities in Amsterdam said that 61 out of 600 people who arrived in the Netherlands on two flights from South Africa had tested positive https: www.reuters. Com world europe passengers-south africa-face wait-covid 19 testing-amsterdam -- 2021 -- 11 -- 26 for coronaviruses. Health authorities were carrying out further tests to see if those cases involved the new variant.

Omicron, a concern of the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious, according to the website www.reuters. Healthcare-pharmaceuticals what-we know about covid 19 variant-detected south-africa -- 2021 -- 11 -- 26 than previous variants of the disease.

It was first discovered in South Africa and has been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong. A minister in the German state of Hesse said on Saturday that the variant had very likely arrived in Germany, in a traveller returning from South Africa.

Financial markets plunged on Friday, especially stocks of airlines and others in the travel sector, because investors worried that the variant could cause a surge in the pandemic and stall a global recovery. Oil prices fell by about $10 a barrel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2.5%, its worst day since October 2020, and European stocks had their worst day in 17 months.

It could take weeks for scientists to understand the variant's mutations and whether existing vaccines and treatments are effective against it. Omicron is the fifth variant of concern designated by the WHO.

Travel restrictions from southern Africa were announced on Friday by the United States, Brazil, Canada and the European Union nations, as well as a number of countries that have banned or restricted access to Omicron in the world, according to epidemiologists.

Australia said on Saturday it would ban non-citizens who have been in nine southern African countries from entering and will require 14 day quarantines for Australian citizens and their dependents returning from there.

After imposing restrictions on travel from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho on Friday, Japan said it would extend its border controls to three more African countries.

Sri Lanka, Thailand and Oman also announced travel restrictions on southern African nations.

As many countries in Europe are already battling a surge in COVID 19 infections, a re-introduced restrictions on social activity have been introduced to try to stop the spread, according to Omicron.

The main opposition Labour Party in Britain called for a faster booster vaccine programme, saying the gap between the second dose of a vaccine and booster jab should be cut from six to five months.

This new variant is a wake-up call, said Alex Norris, Labour's junior health spokesman. We need to strengthen our defences to keep the virus at bay.