New Covid Variant Shuts Borders Across Globe
The Hague, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th Nov, 2021 ) :A new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant spread across the globe on Sunday, shutting borders and renewing curbs as the EU chief said governments faced a "race against time" to understand the strain.
Dubbed Omicron, the strain, first discovered in southern Africa, represents a fresh challenge to global efforts to battle the pandemic, amid fears it is highly infectious. Several countries have already re-imposed measures many had hoped were a thing of the past.
"We know we are now in a race against time," said European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. Vaccine manufacturers needed two to three weeks "to get a full picture of the quality of the mutations", she added.
Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera accused Western countries of "Afrophobia" for shutting their borders.
- Race to determine threat level - Dutch health authorities said they had identified at least 13 cases of Omicron among 61 quarantined passengers who tested positive for coronavirus after arriving from South Africa.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said it was "a minor interference" compared to the alternative for a country with one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe.
With many European nations, including Germany and France, already re-introducing restrictions to counter surges in infections, Swiss voters firmly backed a proposed Covid pass law in a referendum Sunday.
In Britain, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said new Covid rules will be enforced from Tuesday, including mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport in England, and tighter restrictions on passengers arriving from abroad.
As scientists try to determine the level of threat posed by the new strain, one South African doctor said dozens of her patients suspected of having the Omicron variant had only shown mild symptoms, such as fatigue.
Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association told AFP she had seen 30 patients over the past 10 days who tested positive for Covid-19 and who all fully recovered without hospitalisation.
Senior US government scientist Anthony Fauci said he "continues to believe that existing vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases of Covid", during a briefing on the new variant with President Joe Biden on Sunday.