UK detects two Omicron cases as concerns trigger more travel curbs


  • Many states announce journey curbs, bans on southern Africa.
  • Dutch authorities take a look at air passengers for Omicron variant.
  • Britain says two Omicron circumstances detected.

Australia and several other different international locations joined nations imposing restrictions on journey from southern Africa on Saturday after the invention of the brand new Omicron coronavirus variant sparked international concern and triggered a sell-off on monetary markets.

However indicating that such curbs could not stem the unfold of the variant, Britain stated on Saturday it had detected two circumstances and authorities in Germany and the Czech Republic additionally stated that they had suspected circumstances.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Well being Organisation, is probably extra contagious than earlier variants of the illness, though specialists have no idea but if it can trigger kind of extreme COVID-19 in comparison with different coronavirus strains.

The variant was first found in South Africa and had additionally since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

Dutch authorities stated that 61 out of round 600 individuals who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday had examined optimistic for the coronavirus. Well being authorities have been finishing up additional assessments to see if these circumstances concerned the brand new variant.

One passenger who arrived from South Africa on Friday, Dutch photographer Paula Zimmerman, stated she examined detrimental however was anxious for the times to return, having spent hours on a flight that seemingly had many contaminated passengers.

“I’ve been advised that they count on that much more folks will take a look at optimistic after 5 days. It is a bit scary the concept you’ve been in a airplane with lots of people who examined optimistic,” she stated.

Monetary markets plunged on Friday, particularly shares of airways and others within the journey sector, as buyers nervous the variant may trigger one other surge within the pandemic and stall a worldwide restoration. Oil costs tumbled by about $10 a barrel.

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

It may take weeks for scientists to completely perceive the variant’s mutations and whether or not present vaccines and coverings are efficient in opposition to it. Omicron is the fifth variant of concern designated by the WHO.

Journey curbs

Though epidemiologists say journey curbs could also be too late to cease Omicron from circulating globally, many international locations world wide —together with america, Brazil, Canada and European Union nations —introduced journey bans or restrictions on southern Africa on Friday.

On Saturday, Australia stated it could ban non-citizens who’ve been in 9 southern African international locations from getting into and would require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian residents and their dependents getting back from there.

Japan stated it could lengthen its tightened border controls to a few extra African international locations after imposing curbs on journey from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho on Friday.

South Africa is nervous that the curbs will harm tourism and different sectors of its economic system, the international ministry stated on Saturday, including the federal government is participating with international locations which have imposed journey bans to influence them to rethink.

The 2 linked circumstances of the brand new Omicron coronavirus variant detected in Britain have been related to journey to southern Africa, well being minister Sajid Javid stated.

Britain stated it was increasing its “crimson checklist” to place journey curbs on extra southern Africa international locations, whereas South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Oman and Hungary additionally introduced journey restrictions on southern African nations.

A minister in Hesse state stated on Saturday that the variant had very in all probability arrived in Germany, in a traveller getting back from South Africa. Czech well being authorities stated they have been analyzing a suspected case of the variant in an individual who frolicked in Namibia.

Omicron has emerged as many international locations in Europe are already battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, and a few have re-introduced restrictions on social exercise to attempt to cease the unfold. Austria and Slovakia have entered lockdowns.


The brand new variant has additionally thrown a highlight on disparities in how far the world’s inhabitants is vaccinated. At the same time as many developed international locations are giving third-dose boosters, lower than 7% of individuals in low-income international locations have obtained their first COVID-19 shot, in keeping with medical and human rights teams.

Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance that with the WHO co-leads the COVAX initiative to push for equitable distribution of vaccines, stated this was important to keep at bay the emergence of extra coronavirus variants.

“Whereas we nonetheless must know extra about Omicron, we do know that so long as massive parts of the world’s inhabitants are unvaccinated, variants will proceed to look, and the pandemic will proceed to be extended,” he stated in a press release to Reuters.

“We’ll solely stop variants from rising if we’re capable of defend the entire world’s inhabitants, not simply the rich elements.”