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New Omicron Variant Detected in More Countries

November 30, 2021, 02.43 PM - The new omicron variant of the coronavirus, first identified in South Africa, is spreading to more countries, leading the World Health Organization to warn of perils ahead and sparking some countries to widen their calls for booster shots.

Spain became the latest country Monday, November 29, to detect the new Covid-19 variant after Portugal said it had detected 13 cases, all involving players and staff of top division soccer club Belenenses SAD, one of whom recently returned from South Africa.

Other countries that have confirmed cases of the omicron variant include Canada, Scotland, Australia, the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, “This pestilence – one that we can prevent, detect and treat – continues to cast a long shadow over the world.”

Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with Covid-19, it is not done with us,” Tedros said Monday. “We are living through a cycle of panic and neglect. Hard-won gains could vanish in an instant. Our most immediate task, therefore, is to end this pandemic.”

The WHO said the overall global risk related to the omicron variant “is assessed as very high” although no deaths have been linked to it.

The threat of the variant prompted both the United States and Britain to recommend Monday that all adults get Covid-19 booster shots.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously approved booster shots for all adults but only recommended them for those age 50 and older or those who were at high risk for the disease.

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Britain’s government expanded booster eligibility to people between ages 18 and 39 after previously offering it only to those over 40 or at high risk for the disease.

Omicron prompts travel bans

Poland and Japan became the latest countries Monday to announce travel bans because of the virus. Poland said it was suspending flights to seven southern African countries while Japan said it would suspend entry of all foreign visitors beginning Tuesday.

Israel and Morocco have also closed their borders to all foreign visitors. Other countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, and some European Union nations, have barred or limited travelers from Africa’s southern region.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries” due to the travel restrictions.

Source VOA News

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