Omicron Spreads In US, Australia
Washington, Dec 3 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 3rd Dec, 2021 ) :The United States and Australia announced their first locally transmitted cases of the Omicron variant as authorities worldwide rushed Friday to stem the spread of the heavily mutated strain of Covid-19.
The World Health Organization has said it could take weeks to determine whether Omicron is more transmissible and whether it causes more severe infections -- as well as how effective current treatments and vaccines are against it.
But the new variant, first reported by South Africa, has already cast the world's recovery into doubt, with the EU health agency warning it could cause more than half of Europe's Covid cases in the next few months.
A preliminary study by South African researchers suggests the strain is three times more likely to cause reinfections compared to the Delta or Beta strains.
The Hawaii case and one in Minnesota both involved residents with no recent international travel history -- signaling the strain is already circulating inside the country.
"This is a case of community spread," the Hawaii Health Department said.
The cases were reported as US President Joe Biden outlined his plans to battle Covid-19 during the winter, with new testing requirements for travelers and a surge in vaccination efforts.
"It's a plan that I think should unite us," he said.
All incoming travelers will need to test negative within a day before their flights, and rapid tests that currently cost $25 will be covered by insurance and distributed free to the uninsured.
Australia on Friday, too, reported three students had tested positive for the variant.
The case was detected in a foreign student travelling from South Africa, who had arrived in Malaysia on November 19, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said, though the infection was only confirmed on December 2.