The world fears the new variant Omicron could cause a new wave of deaths

A lot of countries urgently stopped flights from South Africa (photo: CafeF)

Bloomberg reports, a series of travel bans and other lightning defense measures are being taken by countries to combat Omicron – the new Covid-19 variant. These are moves to “buy time” so that scientists can decode Omicron, thereby preventing another wave of deaths.

Labs in Europe, the US and Africa are now preparing for trials to see how the new variant is likely to work in previously vaccinated or infected people. Real-world research will also be important, as health authorities closely monitor the outbreak in South Africa to learn how contagious the new variant is as it spreads and whether it is more deadly. lethal or not.

Scientists and policymakers say the questions will take weeks to answer. The search for understanding began with a complex model of the variant of 50 mutations, more than 30 of which are located on the virus’ spike protein, which is the weapon that Covid-19 uses to invade cells. victim’s cells. Activities will continue through laboratory work and eventually observations of disease and transmission patterns in real life.

Wendy Barclay, head of the department of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, said what was clear so far was that a range of mutations could make Omicron spread faster.

Faced with unpredictable developments of the new variant, many countries have been more cautious. The UK announced a ban on flights from South Africa and 5 southern African countries effective from noon on November 26 (local time) and anyone coming from those countries will have to be tested.

Meanwhile, India has advised all states to rigorously test and screen international travelers from South Africa and other “at-risk” countries amid concerns over the emergence of the variant. new.

Meanwhile, Australia said it was investigating a new variant spreading in South Africa and warned it could close its borders to travelers from the African country if the risk from the new strain increased.

More stringently, Singapore’s Ministry of Health on November 26 said all travelers with recent travel history to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe will not be allowed to enter or transit Singapore. from 23:59 (local time) on November 27.

But officials warn that even if travel restrictions are enacted quickly, Omicron, like previous variants, is sure to spread and reach the US. “This will give us a little more time,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview. 

Source: Bloomberg

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