The Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said two cases of the new mutation had been detected among two travelers who arrived from South Africa last week.
The announcement came as Ugur Sahin, CEO of COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech, said that even though the Omicron variant could lead to the infection of more people vaccinated, they would likely remain protected against the serious diseases.
Meanwhile, a panel of U.S. health advisers have closely supported a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck that could lead to clearance later this week.
Scientists scrambled to learn more about the effects of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa last week.
It is not yet clear where or when the variant first appeared. But countries have rushed to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors from southern Africa, despite the World Health Organization’s call for “rational” measures in response to the new strain.
Here are the latest updates:
“If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated”: Anthony Fauci
Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease official, has urged those who are not vaccinated to receive the vaccine, and those who are, to request a booster.
“If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated,” Fauci said. “Get a boost if you are vaccinated,” he added.
He also called on people to continue using “mitigation methods” such as wearing “masks, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces”.
“Choose outside rather than inside, keep your distance, wash your hands, test and isolate if necessary,” he added.
France extends suspension of flights from high-risk southern African countries
France has decided to extend until at least Saturday its suspension of flights from southern African countries which have been hard hit by the Omicron variant, French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said.
“Since this morning, we have extended the suspension of flights from seven southern African countries until Saturday,” Beaune told RTL radio.
Air travelers to the United States to face more stringent COVID-19 tests
The United States is set to require all air travelers entering the country to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure in response to concerns about the new Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Currently, vaccinated international air travelers can show a negative test result within three days of their point of departure. Almost all foreign nationals must be vaccinated to enter the United States. Unvaccinated travelers are currently required to take a negative COVID-19 test within one day of arrival.
The new one-day test requirement would also apply to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.
UK has 22 cases of Omicron, health secretary says
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there are 22 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the UK and that figure will rise.
Javid added that he expected to learn more about the variant within two weeks, as scientists scramble to understand what impact the new variant will have.
“At the moment the number of cases is very low,” he told Sky News. “For the UK we currently have 22 confirmed cases and it will increase, it will definitely increase. “
Japan Suspends New Inbound Flight Bookings For Omicron Strain
Japan has asked airlines to stop taking new bookings of inbound flights over concerns over the Omicron variant, the transportation ministry said.
“We have asked airlines to stop accepting all new inbound flight bookings for one month from December 1,” an official from the Ministry of Transport told AFP news agency, adding that existing bookings would not be affected.
German state reports four fully vaccinated people infected with Omicron
Four people in southern Germany tested positive for the Omicron variant while fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Baden-Württemberg state public health office said.
Three of those infected returned from a business trip to South Africa on November 26 and 27 respectively, and the fourth person is a family member of one of the returnees, the public health unit said. the state.
“All four people are fully vaccinated. A mutation analysis performed by the National Bureau of Health confirmed that they are all infected with the new variant of concern, ”the office said in a statement, adding that all four were in quarantine.
All four had moderate symptoms.
Japan finds second case of Omicron variant: media
Japan has found a second person who has tested positive with the Omicron strain, broadcaster FNN reported.
The first case of the variant was discovered on Tuesday.
The country has extended its travel ban to all inbound foreign travelers – including temporary or permanent residents -om South Africa and nine neighboring countries from Thursday.
Nigeria confirms Omicron cases
Nigeria has confirmed that two cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant have been detected among travelers who arrived in the country last week from South Africa.
The Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) also said retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases among passengers bound for Nigeria identified the mutation in a sample collected in October. He did not provide further details.
“In view of the most likely increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is imperative that measures be put in place to curb community transmission,” NCDC said in a statement.
Malaysia to ban travelers from countries with Omicron cases
Malaysia has said it will temporarily ban the entry of travelers from countries that have reported cases of the Omicron variant or are considered to be at high risk, its health ministry said.
It will also delay plans to establish so-called vaccinated travel routes with these countries, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.
UK reports new cases
The UK has reported eight new cases of the Omicron variant, bringing the total to 13.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a new COVID-19 lockdown is unlikely despite concerns over the new variant.
US panel backs first COVID-19 pill of its kind
A panel of U.S. health advisers has closely backed a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck, paving the way for a likely clearance of the first drug Americans could take at home to treat coronavirus.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel voted 13 in 10 that the benefits of the antiviral drug molnupiravir outweigh its risks, including potential birth defects if used during pregnancy.
“I see this as an incredibly difficult decision with a lot more questions than answers,” said panel chair Dr. Lindsey Baden of Harvard Medical School, who voted in favor of the drug. He said the FDA should carefully tailor the drug’s use to those patients who would benefit the most.
The use of molnupiravir has already been authorized in the UK.