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    COVID cases in South Africa have rocketed by more than 400 per cent in a week as the Omicron variant spreads. An explosion in infections saw 4,473 cases recorded yesterday, up from 868 cases last Tuesday, amid fears of the new super-strain. 1Covid cases have rocketed by more than 400 per cent in a weekCredit: EPA Yesterday's figures marked a 92 per cent leap from the 2,273 cases recorded on Monday. More than 10 per cent of the 42,000 people tested in the past 24 hours were found to be positive, with one leading virologist admitting the figures were "scary". Prof Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, tweeted: "Goodness me! Scary increase of cases and positivity rate in South Africa. "Please keep safe, use a mask and go for vaccination as 1000s of scientists in the world try to understand better." Experts fear the fast-spreading Omicron variant could evade some of the current vaccine protection. Gauteng province is the epicentre in the surge of in new Covid cases, with 72 percent of the day’s...
    The omicron variant of COVID-19 was present in the Netherlands a week before scientists detected it in South Africa, the Dutch National Institute of Public Health reported Tuesday. Though the agency, RIVM, first thought the variant had arrived in the country with 14 passengers who tested positive for it while entering the country from South Africa on Nov. 26, retesting of samples taken on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23 showed that the variant was already present in the Netherlands. WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR ABOUT THE OMICRON VARIANT "It is not yet clear whether these people had also visited southern Africa," the agency said. Initial testing of these samples showed abnormalities in the virus's spike protein. They were sent to RIVM for further analysis. The omicron variant that was first sequenced on Nov. 24 in South Africa has between 26 and 32 mutations on the spike. The discovery of the mutation in South Africa prompted several countries, including the United States, to restrict travel from countries in the southern African region. This new finding,...
    More African leaders on Monday joined South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera in condemning travel bans against their nations – imposed hurriedly by U.S. President Joe Biden and other Western and Asian governments after the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant – as unreasonable actions driven by virus panic and racist animosity towards Africans. Malawi’s Chakwera on Sunday accused the Biden administration, and others who imposed travel bans, of “Afrophobia.” Ramaphosa said the travel restrictions are “completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country.” Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti, worried the travel bans could interfere with the delivery of much-needed vaccines. “We were expecting one million doses before the end of the year and now we are just confused as we are not sure if those vaccines will come because we have been red-listed by the manufacturing countries,” he said. Dikoloti said only 19 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Botswana, and the first four patients were fully-vaccinated foreign nationals. “Most of these cases, contacts have been traced, tested and...
    A representative of South Africa called President Joe Biden's travel ban 'unfair' and urged the United States to share more of its vaccine supply as the Omicron variant of COVID spreads around the world. 'We feel that the travel ban is very unfair,' Xolisa Mabhongo, the deputy permanent representative of South Africa to the United Nations told CNN's New Day Tuesday morning. 'South African science should be commended for discovering this new variant and sharing the information with the world.'  The United States travel ban went into affect on Monday. Biden argued the ban would buy scientists time to learn more about Omicron, which the World Health Organization said is highly transmissible and a 'variant of concern.' The president also argued the best protection against Omicron is being fully vaccinated, getting the booster shot and wearing a face mask. The CDC has expanded booster guidelines to include all adult Americans.  But Stephane Bancel, chief executive at vaccine maker Moderna, warned it will take months to develop an Omicron-specific booster, possibly to summer 2022.   Xolisa Mabhongo, the deputy permanent representative of...
    The University of Oxford said Tuesday there was no evidence that current COVID-19 vaccines would not continue to protect against severe disease from the omicron variant.  "Despite the appearance of new variants over the past year, vaccines have continued to provide very high levels of protection against severe disease and there is no evidence so far that omicron is any different," a University of Oxford spokesperson told Fox News in an email. "However, we have the necessary tools and processes in place for rapid development of an updated COVID-19 vaccine if it should be necessary." The spokesperson also said current data about the omicron variant is limited due to its recent discovery. OMICRON EXPECTED TO ARRIVE IN NYC, COVID MASKS SHOULD BE WORN INDOORS ‘AT ALL TIMES,’ CITY'S TOP DOCTOR SAYS The institution pledged to carefully evaluate the implications of the emergency of the variant for vaccine immunity.  Oxford University said it was ready to produce a new version of its vaccine – developed with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca – if needed. Passengers get a COVID-19 test at a Testing Centre...
    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned travel bans rapidly imposed in the past week on southern African countries in response to the discovery of a new Chinese coronavirus variant, stating on Monday that he was “deeply concerned” about policies such as that enacted by President Joe Biden. Guterres’ opposition to travel bans echoes that of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), a U.N. agency, of the leaders of African countries targeted, and of Joe Biden in 2020. While Biden accused predecessor Donald Trump of racism, “xenophobia,” and other epithets last year for limiting travel from countries experiencing high numbers of Chinese coronavirus cases, Biden banned travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi last week while on an extended five-day vacation in upscale Nantucket. Guterres did not name Biden personally, as several other countries – most notably those in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Japan – enacted similar policies. Japan documented its first case of the new Chinese coronavirus variant, dubbed “Omicron,” on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after imposing its travel ban. “I am now deeply...
    Omicron was already in the Netherlands five days before South Africa alerted the World Health Organisation about it last week, Dutch health authorities have revealed. The RIVM health institute found the mutant Covid strain in samples dating from November 19 and 23. But the WHO said South Africa first reported the the variant to the UN health agency on November 24.  A traveler from South Africa is tested for the Omicron variant upon arrival in a specially designed test lane at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands today It remains unclear where or when the variant first emerged - but that hasn't stopped wary nations from rushing to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors coming from southern Africa.  Those moves have been criticised by South Africa and the WHO has urged against them, noting their limited effect. RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next British tourists' ski holiday chaos as Switzerland brings in... Moderna chief warns 'it will be MONTHS' before there's a... Share this article Share Much is still not known about the variant...
    The omicron Chinese coronavirus variant was present in Europe before it was identified in South Africa, Dutch health authorities revealed Tuesday. According to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the omicron variant was infecting the Netherlands nearly one week before the world awakened Friday to the strand experts and scientists said first originated in South Africa. The cases detected from South Africa at the Amsterdam airport were reportedly not the first time the omicron first reached Europe and other nations. Belgium and Germany also believe the variant was circulating within their counties before Friday, according to CBS News. “It is not yet clear whether the people concerned [in the earlier cases] have also been to southern Africa,” the RIVM said. “In the coming period, various studies will be conducted into the distribution of the Omicron variant in the Netherlands.” The new information casts light on just how little the so-called experts and scientists know about the coronavirus virus, much less political policies with horrific unintended consequences instituted to supposedly protect populations. Passengers walk at the Schiphol airport on November 29, 2021. Dutch health...
    RIGA, Latvia — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, which was discovered in South Africa, underscores the point that “none of us will be fully safe until everyone is.” Speaking in Riga, Latvia, during a two-day meeting of the NATO foreign ministers, Blinken also noted “a real disparity” between vaccinations in Africa and the United States and Europe. “We have vaccination rates in the United States, in Europe of 50, 60, 70%, depending on exactly who you’re counting. And in Africa, it’s more like 14, 15% or less.” He noted that sometimes the supply of vaccines may actually be sufficient to meet the needs, but the ability to get shots in arms is lacking. He said the United States was working on a solution that “brings the private sector into the game to help solve these last-mile problems of getting shots and arms. We’re putting that into into motion now.” ___ MORE ON THE PANDEMIC: — The EU’s medical agency says it will take two weeks to have an...
    SAN FEANCISCO (KPIX) — Just as the Thanksgiving holiday wraps up, we are now hearing about a new coronavirus variant, Omicron. At this point, the Omicron variant hasn’t been found here in the Bay Area but many in the medical field say it’s only a matter of time, most likely in the next couple of weeks. READ MORE: Gilroy Teen Fails Driving Test Due To Tesla Regenerative Braking SystemFrank and Teresa Muscat are visiting from Rhode Island. “We have not seen the family and that’s the heartbreaking part,” says Teresa. They were finally able to see family again this Thanksgiving but now they’re concerned about the new variant first detected in South Africa. “When is this going to end. It seems like it keeps getting legs and continuing,” says Fred. Researchers want to know how transmissible Omicron is, how sick it can make you and how well it holds up to vaccines. READ MORE: Santa Clara Shoe Store Ransacked in Late Night Smash-and-Grab RobberyDr. George Rutherford, an UCSF Epidemiologist says, “We have a lot of work to do to...
    South African citizens complained over the weekend that the Chinese coronavirus’s latest superstar variant, now generally referred to as the “Omicron variant,” has been closely identified with their nation. South African scientists argued the threat of Omicron has been overhyped and they have been punished for their diligent work in isolating the strain. South Africans complained over the weekend the Omicron variant was actually discovered in Belgium and the early cases were not linked to southern Africa. They said the B.1.1.529 strain, as it is technically classified, only became known as the “South Africa variant” because the laboratory in Durban, South Africa, quickly identified the new mutation of the coronavirus and warned the rest of the world. South Africans, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, complained they were being unfairly ostracized and punished with travel bans. Putting a travel ban on South Africa for alerting the world about a new variant (due to excellent sequencing capacity) is like banning the room with the smoke detector when there’s a fire in your house. #B11529 #NewVariant — Clinton du Preez (@Cleintoon) November 26,...
    (CNN)Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said Monday that he doesn't anticipate the United States will implement additional travel restrictions even if the Omicron variant proves worse than previous strains of Covid-19. President Joe Biden announced last week that the US would restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi in response to the new and potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant first identified by South African scientists. Several other nations have followed suit in restricting travel from southern Africa nations.Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday whether he expects more travel restrictions should Omicron prove to be more contagious and deadly, Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, replied, "I don't think so, Jake.""I think what was done about the restrictions from South Africa and neighboring countries was merely because when the information came out about the molecular makeup of this virus with all of the mutations that were of concern, we felt that we needed to do something right away," Fauci, the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,...
    CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Boston’s South African community is bracing for another isolating holiday season as the country halts flights coming from eight African countries. It’s been two long years since Siphokazi Mangcu has seen her family in South Africa. The Cambridge woman planned to return with her two kids this Christmas until news of the latest travel ban disrupted her plans. READ MORE: 'Old Ladies Against Underwater Garbage' Cleaning Out One Pond At A Time On The Cape“We just feel helpless. We’re helpless. We don’t know,” said Mangcu. There’s uncertainty in when she’ll be able to return to her home country and how strong the Omicron variant is. “It’s more than just cutting off flights,” Mangcu explained. “It has been two years. Christmas is the most depressing time for us. We have two kids, 4 and 13, who have been missing out their home experience.” READ MORE: Leonard Robinson Charged With Murdering Dejah Jenkins-Minus In LowellPresident Biden said Monday that he hoped this travel ban will give Americans time to get vaccinated – whether for the first time or a booster....
    Some health experts are sure that the South African Omicron variant is already in the United States, it just has not been detected yet. Dr Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told CBS News' Face the Nation that the variant likely found its way into the U.S. before flights from seven south African nations were paused. The restriction was instituted on Monday by President Biden in an effort to prevent the potentially vaccine evasive, highly infectious, variant from finding its way stateside. Omicron was first detected in South Africa last week, and has since been found in more than a dozen countries, including the UK and Canada. Dr Scott Gottlieb (pictured) believes that the Omicron COVID-19 variant is already in the U.S. and it just has not been sequenced yet Gottlieb says that since so many people are flying into America and then testing positive for the virus, it is extremely likely at least one person brought the variant with them. Another expert, Dr Chris Thompson of Loyola Chicago, agrees. The U.S. halted travel from...
    The Omicron variant sounds like the title of a bargain-bin sci-fi novel.Photo via AdobeOn Friday, the Dow collapsed by 2.5%, its worst post-Thanksgiving performance since 1931. The culprit wasn’t inflation, but rather the uncertainty sparked by the Omicron variant—which sounds like the title of a bargain-bin sci-fi novel—a new strain of the coronavirus that produced an “exponential rise” in COVID cases in South Africa’s most populous province. It’s unclear how well the vaccines will protect against it, though the variant doesn’t seem to cause more severe disease than its predecessors. Even so, with more than a quarter of U.S. adults still unvaccinated, the threat of another COVID wave sent investors into the fetal position. The news prompted the usual idiocy from the usual suspects. Fox News hosts suggested Democrats would invent a new variant every two years. Ronny Jackson, the former White House “Dr. Feelgood” turned Texas congressman, accused Democrats of manufacturing the variant “to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots.” Such sewage would be best ignored had it not already led to Republicans comprising 60% of the unvaccinated, contributed to untold thousands of deaths, and turned the pandemic...
    Spencer Platt/Getty A sign for a Covid testing site stands in Staten Island on November 29, 2021 in New York City. Across New York City and the nation, people are being encouraged to get either the booster shot or the Covid-19 vaccine, especially with the newly discovered omicron variant slowly emerging in countries around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the B.1.1.529 lineage of Sars-CoV-2, thought to have emerged in southern Africa, is to be designated as a variant of concern (VoC) named omicron. This decision has already precipitated a broad shift in priorities in pandemic management on a global scale. The WHO has recommended, among other things, increased surveillance, particularly virus genome sequencing; focused research to understand the dangers posed by this variant; and ramping up mitigation measures, such as mandatory mask wearing. Greater restrictions on international travel have already come into force in the UK and many other countries. Indeed, Japan has closed its borders to all foreign visitors. The speed with which the omicron variant was designated a VoC was...
    The South African province where the Omicron COVID-19 variant was first detected has suffered a more than 300 percent increase in virus related hospitalizations this week. Gauteng, which includes the city of Johannesburg, recorded 580 hospitalizations because of the virus this week, per official data - a 330 percent jump from 135 two weeks ago. Just under 40 percent of the provinces 12 million residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine - third-lowest of the nation's 12 provinces. Last week, the new Omicron variant was sequenced in 77 cases in the region, and many fear it is the most infectious strain of the virus yet and that it could evade vaccine protection because of its high number of mutations. While South African health officials have reported that cases of the variant are often mild, the increase in hospitalizations in the province seems to hint otherwise. Over the past two weeks, Covid related hospitalizations in the Gauteng province of South Africa have jumped 330% - from 135 in the week that ended on November 7 (week 45)...
    Japan has banned all foreigners from visiting its shores due to concerns about the latest COVID-19 variant. The country will bar entry to foreigners starting Tuesday at midnight, and Japanese citizens will have to quarantine in a designated location. "These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety's sake until there is clearer information about the omicron variant," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters . "I'm prepared to bear all criticism from those saying the Kishida administration is being too cautious." CHINA PLEDGES ADDITIONAL BILLION VACCINES TO AFRICA List of countries where new Covid-19 Omicron variant has been detected Washington Examiner Japan's decision to close its borders comes days after it announced a tightening of control over travel coming from South Africa and six other African nations. Japan's response to the omicron variant is among the most restrictive national responses to date. Israel and Morocco  have also implemented bans on foreign visitors. This is a significant step back for Japan concerning its travel restrictions. Last month, the country increased...
    The White House defended President Joe Biden's decision to impose a travel ban on eight southern African countries after he suggested former President Donald Trump's Asia-focused restrictions and rhetoric were xenophobic during the 2020 campaign. Biden has not criticized travel bans, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. The Biden administration has introduced its own travel limitations, she told reporters Monday. FOUR THINGS TO WATCH AS BIDEN ADMINISTRATION RETURNS TO IRAN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATING TABLE "He believes we should follow the advice of health and medical experts. That's exactly what he did in putting in place these restrictions over the weekend," she said. South Africa has complained Biden's travel ban is punitive after officials disclosed the discovery of the potentially more transmissible omicron COVID-19 variant last week. "He's going to always err on the side of protecting the American people," Psaki said of Biden. “The objective here is not to punish. It is to protect the American people." Public health experts have argued the emergence of a new variant as the world grapples with the delta strain has underscored...
    The CEO of vaccine manufacturer Moderna warned on Monday that current vaccines may not be effective against the new omicron variant. Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, said the company was still doing research into the new variant. However, he fears the antibodies the vaccine provides to fight the virus will be eight times lower against omicron. "There are two key things that we don't know yet and will find out in [coming weeks]," Bancel told CNBC's Squawk Box. "One is vaccine efficacy. What is the impact of this new variant on the vaccine efficacy? And we should know that in around two weeks. ... Given the large level of mutation, it is highly possible that the efficacy of the vaccines, all of them, is going down." PFIZER AND BIONTECH: VACCINE AGAINST NEW COVID-19 STRAIN CAN BE PRODUCED IN 100 DAYS The omicron variant has over 30 mutations on the spike protein, more than other variants such as delta and beta. Not much is known yet about omicron. However, it is believed to be more transmissible than...
    SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — University of California San Francisco infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong believes the new COVID Variant ‘Omicron’ variant is already here. Here’s what you need to know. READ MORE: Travel Restrictions Begin Amid Growing Concerns Over The New COVID Omicron VariantThe World Health Organization issued a warning Friday of the variant named that has been identified in South Africa, Great Britain and other counties. South African scientists identified the new version of the coronavirus this week saying it was behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province. It’s unclear where the new variant actually arose, but it was first detected by scientists in South Africa and has now been seen in travelers to Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel. Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an “exponential rise” of cases in the last few days, although experts are still trying to determine if the new variant, named B.1.1.529, is actually responsible. From just over 200 new confirmed cases per day in recent weeks, South Africa...
    A World Health Organization spokeswoman condemned recent travel bans to South Africa — in light of the new Omnicron variant — before emphasizing that there isn’t enough data to know if it’s a major public health threat. Kate Bolduan spoke to Dr. Margaret Harris on CNN Monday morning and began by referring to the WHO’s warning that the Omicron variant of Covid has a “very high” risk of global spread. This comes after the U.S. enacted plans for restricting travel to Africa in light of Omicron outbreaks in multiple countries. Harris began by explaining that the WHO’s assessment actually refers to the broader possibility of a Covid outbreak, “so it sounds a bit more frightening than it really is.” In terms of how much concern there should be about Omicron, Harris acknowledged the coronavirus’ ongoing mutation, but she repeatedly made the point that “we don’t have nearly enough answers” about how much damage it can do. We don’t have enough information about whether it’s more transmissible, whether it’s going to cause more severe disease, and critically, is it able to...
    Portuguese health authorities announced Monday they have identified 13 cases of Omicron, a new variant of Covid feared for its ease of transmission. Each case is tied to the professional soccer club Belenenses after one player traveled to South Africa. Saturday, Belenenses entered their Primeira Liga match against Benfica with 17 reported cases of Covid among their players and staff. After they were declined the ability to postpone the match, the game was ultimately abandoned shortly after halftime, when Belenenses was unable to dress the minimum of seven players. “In the middle of the afternoon we communicated to the Liga that we didn’t want to play the game,” club president Rui Pedro Soares told reporters Saturday. “We had eight players who could attend the game and as such, they told us that if we didn’t attend the game it would be unjustified absence. “Playing here today was a shame for all of us.” At the time of the match on Saturday, it was unclear if any of the 17 reported Covid cases from Belenenses involved the Omicron variant. But...
    New York City is already seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as the holiday season gets underway.  Although holiday travel and gatherings have just started and the coldest days lie ahead, the city just recorded a spike of 2.22percent in COVID-19 positive test rate - the highest since September, Bloomberg reported.  More than 100 patients were hospitalized with the virus just on Friday, marking a 25 percent spike from roughly two weeks ago.  New York City recorded 485 people hospitalized due to the virus on November 27, over 100 more than two weeks ago. City and health officials have already warned New Yorkers that the worst is yet to come as more cases are expected to be recorded after the Thanksgiving weekend, and the country grapples with the threat of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa.   On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that no cases of the variant have yet been recorded in the city, but said there were fears that it could spread rapidly to the city.  He reissued advice saying that all...
    The recent discovery of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has upended the outlook for a pandemic that already was expected to get worse over the winter. But it will probably take weeks before scientists truly understand whether Omicron — declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Friday, two days after South Africa announced its detection — will end up being as significant as the Delta variant. “It will take approximately two more weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity and other characteristics of the variant,” the White House said in a statement Sunday after President Biden met with his COVID-19 response team. The statement said that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor for the pandemic, “continues to believe that existing vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases of COVID.” Fauci also reiterated that booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals provide the strongest available protection from COVID. Not all variants of concern end up becoming a big deal. Two — Beta, first identified in South Africa,...
    JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s rapid increase in COVID-19 cases attributed to the new omicron variant is resulting in mostly mild symptoms, doctors say. “We’ve seen a sharp increase in cases for the past 10 days. So far they have mostly been very mild cases, with patients having flu-like symptoms: dry coughs, fever, night sweats, a lot of body pains,” said Dr. Unben Pillay, a general practitioner in Gauteng province where 81% of the new cases have been reported. “Most of these patients have been treated at home,” Pillay told an online press briefing Monday. “Vaccinated people tend to do much better. We have not seen a vast increase in hospitalizations, but this is still early days. Hospitalizations often come several days after a rise in confirmed cases.” Most of the new cases in South Africa have been among people in their 20s and 30s, and doctors note that age group generally has milder symptoms of COVID-19 in any case. They warn that older people infected by the new variant could have more severe symptoms. Learning more about the omicron...
    Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane defied pressure from anti-Israel groups and even the South African government on Sunday and landed in Israel to represent her country in the Miss Universe pageant in the coastal Red Sea city of Eilat next month. “Ready as I’ll ever be! I’m so grateful for this opportunity to represent my country on the @missuniverse stage!” Mswane posted on her Instagram account upon landing in Israel on Sunday, holding her country’s flag. “South Africa! Let’s do this!”   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Miss South Africa (@official_misssa) Mswane, 24, has faced a campaign of abuse by South Africa’s aggressive anti-Israel organizations, who have sought for the last twenty years to tarnish Israel as an “apartheid” state, and to boycott it until it is dismantled, like apartheid South Africa. Lalela Mswane takes to the stage in the Miss South Africa beauty pageant in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday Oct. 16, 2021 before winning the title. Controversy is swirling around the Miss South Africa beauty pageant, as the government has withdrawn its support...
    TOKYO (AP) – Portuguese health authorities said Monday they have identified 13 cases of omicron, the new coronavirus variant believed to be more contagious, among team members of a professional soccer club. The Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute said Monday that one of those who tested positive at the Lisbon-based Belenenses soccer club had recently travelled to South Africa, where the omicron variant was first identified. The others, however, had not travelled to South Africa, indicating that this may be one of the very first cases of local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa. Those who have been in contact with the positive cases have been ordered to isolate, regardless of their vaccination status or their exposure to possible contagion, and will be regularly tested for COVID-19, the institute said. As cases of a new coronavirus variant are confirmed around the world, Japan announced Monday that it will suspend entry of all foreign visitors, joining an increasing number of countries that are tightening their borders as fear spreads of yet another extension of pandemic suffering. Japan, which has...
    Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, condemned on Sunday what he repeatedly called “unjustified” travel bans on citizens of his country and its neighbors by much of the West and the Middle East in response to the discovery of a new Chinese coronavirus variant known as “Omicron.” Ramaphosa called on nations banning South Africans from entry, including the United States, to “urgently” undo the policies before they further damage African economies already suffering direly from the two-year-old Chinese pandemic. Ramaphosa used his speech on Friday night to also announce that he would not change the current coronavirus protocol in the country and urge citizens to receive coronavirus vaccine candidate doses. South Africa has approved the distribution of two American companies’ vaccine products – those by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer – the product by European company AstraZeneca, and the low-efficacy Chinese “Coronavac” by Sinovac Biotech. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) designated Omicron a “variant of concern” last week in large part due to the discovery that it had mutated significantly more than the “Delta” variant from India, currently the most prevalent...
    The World Health Organization says it could still take some time to get a full picture of the threat posed by omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus as scientists worldwide scramble to assess its multiple mutations.  Stock markets swooned, some public gatherings got canceled, and countries across the globe suspended incoming flights after scientists in South Africa last week identified the new version that appears to have been behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in the country’s most populous province.  Over the weekend, the list of countries that have spotted the new variant in travelers grew. Portugal detected 13 cases linked to the new variant among members of a single soccer club — only one of whom had recently traveled to South Africa.  13 OMICRON CASSES IN PORTUGUESE SOCCER TEAM  Travelers wearing protective face masks arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) On Friday, WHO designated it as a "variant of concern," its most serious designation of a COVID-19 variant, and called it "omicron" as the latest entry...
    Earlier this week, scientists in South Africa and Botswana identified a small cluster of cases involving a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The high number of mutations on this variant, now officially labeled as “omicron,” generated immediate concern—especially as several of the changes involve the critical spike protein. That protein is a key part of how the virus attaches to cells in the body, and the target of both vaccines and manufactured monoclonal antibody treatments. So changes in that area could affect the virus’ rate of transmission, as well as making it more evasive to prevention and treatment. Early statistics in one region of South Africa have given preliminary indications that the rate of transmission may be very high; possibly higher than that of the delta variant, which currently makes up 99.9% of cases in the United States. It’s not clear that the variant actually appeared first in the region where it has been detected. South Africa has one of the world’s best systems of sampling and analysis—one that has experience in dealing with other epidemics, including HIV—meaning that it very quickly...
    Travelers walk through the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport on November 21, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.Matthew Hatcher | Getty Images U.S. airlines over Thanksgiving week had some of their busiest days since before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic as travelers returned in droves to reunite with family after a subdued holiday last year. The Transportation Security Administration screened nearly 2.5 million people on Sunday, the most since Feb. 15, 2020. That was about 15% below the number of people TSA screened two years earlier. Airports, planes and parking lots were packed but travelers and airlines lucked out with mostly good weather and small numbers of cancellations, unlike the mass disruptions that affected hundreds of thousands of passengers during several episodes since this summer. Airlines including Southwest and American had offered flight attendants and other staff extra pay or bonuses for working holiday trips and meeting attendance goals. Despite the surge in air travel over the holiday, airlines are now facing a new challenge as more countries report cases of the omicron variant of Covid-19, just as international travel was...
    MADRID — Spain has imposed a 10-day mandatory quarantine for visitors coming from seven southern African countries, where omicron, a new coronavirus variant, was first been identified. Spain’s move comes as more and more countries are imposing travel restrictions, even though much remains unknown about omicron. The mandatory isolation affects travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe who arrive in Spain directly or with stopovers in other countries. Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said that more than 200 nationals who were in the region and whose flights have been cancelled will be brought back to Spain on flights that are still operating to parts of Europe. ___ MORE ON THE PANDEMIC: — 13 omicron cases discovered in Portuguese soccer club — AP explains what is known and not known about the new COVID-19 variant — Merriam-Webster chooses vaccine as the 2021 word of the year — Why WHO skipped ‘nu,’ ‘xi’ for new COVID variant — See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic ___ TOKYO — Japan announced Monday it will suspend entry of all...
    SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A surge in coronavirus cases has been reported in the Bay Area and across California as well as the country due in part to the emergence of the highly-contagious delta variant.The latest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. can be found at the CDC's 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the U.S. page. (The CDC updates the webpage on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.)Join anchor Kristen Sze for ABC7's daily, interactive newscast about the coronavirus outbreak in the Bay Area and around the world. You can check here to stream the show Monday-Friday at 3 p.m. MAPS: Check out the latest maps of COVID-19 cases, deaths in the US, world CORONAVIRUS IN CA: Get resources and information about COVID-19 LATEST LOCAL CASES: Updated number of COVID-19 cases, deaths in San Francisco Bay Area Here are the latest developments on the respiratory illness in the Bay Area: Nov. 29, 20215:30 a.m.US imposes travel ban from South Africa, 7 other countriesStarting today, the U.S. will impose a new travel ban from South Africa and seven other countries....
    Doctor Immanuel Hardtmann holds a syringe with the vaccine Moderna in a temporary vaccination center inside the Excursion boat Alexander von Humboldt on the first day of the #HierWirdGeimpft (Get Vaccinated Here) Covid-19 vaccination campaign on September 13, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.Carsten Koall | Getty Images News | Getty Images Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel on Monday said it will take months to develop and ship a vaccine that specifically targets the omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19. However, a higher 100-microgram dose of the company's booster shot could be ready much sooner. "The higher dose could be done right away but it will be months before the omicron specific variant is ready to ship in massive quantities," Bancel told CNBC's "Squawk Box." Bancel said Moderna believes the omicron variant is highly infectious, but it will take at least two weeks determine how much the mutations have impacted the efficacy of the vaccines currently on the market. "Depending on how much it dropped, we might decide on the one hand to give a higher dose of the current vaccine...
    Portugal has confirmed 13 cases of the Omicron Covid super-variant, all of them linked to a football team whose players had been away on international duty. The infections were confirmed at Lisbon club Belenenses on Monday, coming after defender Cafu Phete returned from playing with the South African national team and tested positive for the virus.  Belenenses took to the field on Saturday for a game against Benfica with just nine players because the rest were in isolation. Only seven returned to the field after half-time, before one of them went down injured. Belenenses took to the field against Benfica on Saturday with just nine men because the rest were in isolation with suspected Covid The match was abandoned just two minutes into the second period, with Benfica leading 7-0. Both teams blamed Portuguese health officials and league bosses for allowing the match to go ahead. Speaking on Monday, a Belenenses spokesman said most of the club is now isolating pending the results of Covid tests. 'We're all in isolation except for the youth team that didn't play on Saturday, 44 people are...
    By Lilit Marcus and Barry Neild | CNN Just as many countries around the world were beginning to loosen their border restrictions, reports of a newly detected coronavirus variant in South Africa sent many of those doors slamming shut again. The new B.1.1.529 variant was named Omicron by the World Health Organization on November 26. Different countries and territories have taken different approaches toward preventing the spread of this new variant. The most up-to-date information is below, but please be aware that governments can change their regulations on a moment’s notice. Check back for further updates. Angola Angola announced on Saturday that it will close its borders with seven countries in southern Africa in an effort to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant, according to state media. Angola’s borders with South Africa, Botswana, Lesoto, Eswatini, Malawai, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe will be closed until January 5, 2022. Australia Australian officials have suspended all inbound and outbound flights to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe for at least 14 days and has banned...
    International passengers walk through the arrivals area at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport on November 26, 2021 in London, England.Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images The heavily-mutated omicron Covid-19 variant has been detected in more countries as governments around the world weigh new travel bans and restrictive measures. The World Health Organization on Monday said the variant poses a "very high" global risk that could have "severe consequences" given that some of its mutations may sidestep immune protection and suggest greater transmissibility. However, the South African doctor who first raised the alarm over the new strain, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, told the BBC Sunday that the associated symptoms seen so far have been "extremely mild." The U.K. has identified nine cases as of late morning on Monday, six of which are in Scotland, while the Netherlands and Portugal have each discovered 13 cases. Elsewhere in Europe, small numbers of cases have been identified in Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Austria.Travel bansAustralia has reported five cases and will temporarily halt the next stage of its plan to...
    THE new Omicron variant has caused hospitalisations in South Africa to treble in two weeks, worrying new figures reveal. The new data, taken from the NICD, showed that hospital admissions had risen from 135 to 418 over the past 14 days – confirming fears that it could be more transmissible. 4Most new South African infections have been attributed to the new variantCredit: Reuters 4Travel bans have imposed against travellers - pictured here in Johannesburg - flying out of the country amid fears over the strains transmissibilityCredit: AFP The new Omicron strain, or B.1.1.529, was first reported 13 days ago with cases reported across a number of African nations. It has 50 genetic mutations, most of which have been identified in previous variants, along with three brand-new changes. A South African doctor who treated patients with the Omicron variant reported that the symptoms were “mild” but did note that they were unusual. And aftter cases were detected in 14 different nations - including Britain - it was quickly dubbed as a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization - sparked...
    London (CNN)Nations around the world are racing to identify how many cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant they have, as fears over the new strain force governments to shutter borders and revisit restrictions.The new mutation, which is potentially more transmissible, was first discovered in South Africa and has since been detected in several countries.Here's a list of the places reporting cases so far. This will be updated. Australia: 2 cases Austria: 1 caseRead MoreBelgium: 1 caseBotswana: 19 casesCanada: 2 casesCzech Republic: 1 caseDenmark: 2 casesGermany: 3 casesHong Kong: 3 casesIsrael: 1 caseItaly: 1 caseNetherlands: 13 casesPortugal: 13 cases South Africa: 77 casesUnited Kingdom: 9 cases
    SOUTH Africa’s Covid cases are expected to top 10,000 per day by the end of this week due to the super strain Omicron, a leading epidemiologist has said. It would mean the nation has seen a surge in cases of 9,900 per cent in the space of just three weeks, instilling fear into the rest of the world. 1Covid cases over the past two weeks in South Africa. One of the countries epidemiologists, Dr Salim Abdool Karim, says he expects cases to reach 10,000 by the end of this week Officials are working to stall the seeding of Omicron in other nations, with border closures and quarantine rules. But already it has popped up in a dozen countries, as expected, including in the UK where nine cases have been detected. The variant is thought to be faster spreading than Delta - which is currently the most dominant strain globally. It may also evade immunity from prior infection or vaccination, making more people susceptible to infection. In South Africa, the Omicron epicentre, cases have already soared several-fold since the alarm was...
    (CNN)Omicron, the newest coronavirus variant, is also the quickest to be labeled a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization because of its seemingly fast spread in South Africa and its many troubling mutations.Its emergence has already led to travel restrictions, high-level government meetings and promises by vaccine makers to start working on strain-specific vaccines just in case.But it has a long way to go to take over from Delta, the variant that dominates all over the world. And the long list of variants that at first frightened the world before falling off the map can be a reminder that viruses are unpredictable.Here's a look at the named coronavirus variants.Variants of concernRead MoreWHO designates coronavirus variants as either variants of concern -- meaning they look dangerous enough to bear close scrutiny and continual updates -- or as variants of interest, or variants under monitoring. Only five currently meet the definition for variants of concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron.OmicronThe first sample of the Omicron or B.1.1.529 lineage was taken November 9, according to WHO. It got noticed because...
    ▶ Watch Video: U.S. to impose new travel restrictions on southern African countries Durban, South Africa — The Omicron variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in South Africa has now spread to at least 14 countries. Some experts believe it’s likely already reached the U.S., but as governments including America’s race to impose travel restrictions, scientists are racing to figure out how much more dangerous than previous strains this mutated virus really is. From Monday, the U.S. was imposing restrictions on travelers from South Africa and seven other countries in the region. Already the new variant has been confirmed in Canada, with two cases in people who recently arrived from Nigeria — not one of the nations under the new U.S. travel restrictions. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the new variant was likely already in the United States, but he said the government was better positioned to detect cases of the new strain than it was a year ago. WHO criticizes travel restrictions...
    LONDON — Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there is evidence of local transmission of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus after the country reported its first six cases. She told a news conference that not all the cases in Scotland had links to recent travel, adding that this suggests “there might already be some community transmission of this variant in Scotland.” The new cases takes the U.K.’s total to nine after three cases were identified in England over the weekend. The arrival of the variant on British shores prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten restrictions on mask-wearing and testing of international arrivals to England. ___ MORE ON THE PANDEMIC: — 13 omicron cases discovered in Portuguese soccer club — AP explains what is known and not known about the new COVID-19 variant — Merriam-Webster chooses vaccine as the 2021 word of the year — Why WHO skipped ‘nu,’ ‘xi’ for new COVID variant — See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic ___ ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s planning minister said a big vaccination campaign against coronavirus will be...
    SOME people appear at greater risk of the dangerous Omicron variant, it’s been suggested. According to the doctor who first flagged the super-strain, a certain type of person has been falling sick - and with new symptoms. 1Dr Angelique Coetzee on Good Morning Britain Dr Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of the South African Medical Association, was quizzed on her knowledge of Omicron amid its spread into new countries - including the UK. Speaking of its discovery, she told Good Morning Britain: “For about eight to 10 weeks we hadn't seen any new Covid cases in our region where we are practising. “Then all of a sudden on the 18th November, I saw young men coming through with symptoms similar to a viral infection. “We did rapid testing, they were positive for Covid-19.” She said she initially saw a man aged 30 years old, and it was “very seldom” people of this age group come into her surgery. After she saw seven other patients, she alerted an advisory panel that there could be a new variant spreading, based...
    NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul plan to address concerns over the new omicron variant, first discovered in southern Africa.Starting Monday, the United States is banning most travel from eight countries, including South Africa, into the United States.Permanent residents and U.S. citizens are not affected.The aggressive step comes after World Health Organization researchers in Botswana discovered the new variant.The concern is that this strain may have mutated so much that is could be resistant to antibodies and vaccines may not be as effective.MORE NEWS | State of Emergency issued in NY to help boost hospital capacityEMBED More News Videos There are fears that the new variant could be even more contagious than the current predominant one. Doctors in our area say vaccines and booster shots are still the best defense."The vaccines, even if they take a hit, will not be rendered ineffective. So, I'm very confident that the vaccines will provide some degree of protection, maybe a very high degree of protection, that's why it's really...
    PHILADELPHIA -- US health officials are urging Americans not to be complacent and to use every tool at their disposal to prepare for the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which was recently deemed a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization (WHO).The overall global risk related to the newly discovered B.1.1.529 strain of the novel coronavirus "is assessed as very high," the WHO said in a technical brief Monday.Experts are now racing to determine whether Omicron's mutations make it more transmissible, more severe and potentially more resistant to vaccines, but it could be weeks before we have answers.In the meantime, US travel restrictions on flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi went into effect overnight. The Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa and has been detected in multiple countries.So far, no cases have been confirmed on US soil, but the variant has been detected over the border in Canada and experts say it will likely pop up in the US soon.With much about Omicron still unknown, officials say vaccinations and boosters remain the...