The United States has confirmed 10 cases of the omicron variant in five states, even as President Joe Biden urged the public not to panic.
The cases reported in California, Colorado and Minnesota were among those fully vaccinated who developed mild symptoms, while Hawaii reported one case in an unvaccinated person who had moderate symptoms. A 76-year-old New Yorker who recently returned from South Africa has also tested positive for the new variant.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that a negative Covid-19 test, performed one day before the flight, would be required for all travelers over 2 years old coming to the United States.
Panama and Nepal have joined the list of countries blocking travelers from African countries over concerns over the spread of omicron. Countries include South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
And Germany has tightened restrictions on unvaccinated people, excluding them from much of public life in a bid to fight the surge in infections. Under the new rules, those who are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from the infection would be allowed in restaurants, cinemas and stores – others will not. Parliament could also vote soon to make vaccinations compulsory, announced outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Risk of re-infection of omicron is three times higher, study finds
The risk of reinfection with the omicron variant is three times higher than previous delta or beta variants, a preliminary study by South African scientists revealed on Thursday.
The results also provide evidence for the “ability of the omicron variant to evade immunity against previous infection”. “Recent re-infections have occurred in people whose primary infections occurred during all three waves, most of whom had their primary infection in the Delta wave,” tweeted Juliet Pulliam, director of the South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling.
The study was not peer reviewed, AFP reported.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 7:02 AM
South Korea makes vaccination card compulsory for public places
South Korea announced on Friday that it was making vaccine passes mandatory for those visiting restaurants, cinemas and other public places.
The new rules came amid an increase in Covid-19 infections and as the country has reported five cases of the omicron variant. Authorities have also made a 10-day quarantine mandatory for fully vaccinated inbound travelers.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 6:58 AM
Malaysia reports first omicron case
Malaysia is the latest on the list of countries to have detected its first case of the omicron variant, the country’s Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has confirmed.
The variant was reported in a foreign passenger who arrived in the country from South Africa via Singapore on November 19.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 6:55 AM
Indian doctor with no travel history tested positive for omicron
Of the two people who tested positive for the omicron variant in India, while one is a South African national and has returned home, another is a 46-year-old Indian doctor who has no travel history.
Details were revealed by the Minister of Health of Karnataka state in southern India, where the two cases were reported.
The case has raised concerns about the presence of the variant in the community. The doctor’s five immediate contacts, including two family members and a colleague, also tested positive for the virus, with their samples being sent for genome sequencing to confirm the variant.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 5:55 AM
Nepal bans travelers from eight African countries
Nepal has joined the list of countries banning travelers from eight African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The ban that went into effect Friday at midnight also includes travelers from Hong Kong.
International travelers would be refused entry if they have entered any of those countries within the past three weeks, while those already in transit must spend seven days in some hotel quarantine.
“Nepalese nationals are advised against non-essential overseas travel for fear of the new variant,” Interior Ministry spokesman Phanindra Pokharel told Reuters.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 5:15 AM
Panama blocks travelers from eight African countries
Panama has announced a temporary ban on travelers from entering the country from eight African countries over concerns over the potentially more infectious omicron variant.
The restrictions cover those who have traveled through South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Malawi in the past two weeks.
Under the new travel rules, while Panamanians and vaccinated residents must show a negative Covid-19 test performed within 72 hours of boarding the flight, those who are not vaccinated would be required to go into “preventive quarantine” .
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 4:58 AM
Germany imposes drastic restrictions on unvaccinated people
In a bid to cope with its surge in Covid-19 infections, Germany has imposed drastic restrictions on unvaccinated people, banning them from entering bars, restaurants and cinemas.
Unvaccinated people will also not be allowed to enter the country’s famous Christmas markets. And the German parliament plans to go further, Angela Merkel said Thursday, and make the vaccination against Covid compulsory for all.
“You can see from the decisions that we understand that the situation is very serious,” said the outgoing Chancellor. “Given the situation, I think it is appropriate to adopt compulsory vaccination.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 4:43 AM
New Covid testing restriction for travelers entering the United States
The Biden administration has tightened pre-departure Covid testing rules for all inbound international travelers, requiring a negative test performed within 24 hours of leaving for the United States. Previously, the test could be taken up to three days before entering the country. The rule also applies to citizens and non-citizens.
In addition, foreign nationals must also be fully vaccinated.
Namita SinghDecember 3, 2021 4:28 AM
welcome to The independents coverage of the latest news from Covid on Friday, December 3, including developments with the omicron variant that sparked international concern.