- In recent days, omicron cases have been reported in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Israel, and Hong Kong.
- As nations worldwide tightened controls against the worrying new strain, Australian officials raced Sunday.
To conduct additional tests on passengers arriving from southern Africa who tested positive for COVID-19 to determine if they were carrying the omicron variant.
The threat posed by the variant, neighboring New Zealand announced restrictions on travel from nine Southern African countries, and Japan expanded its border controls to include more countries from the region.
Tourist-dependent Thailand, which has only recently begun to relax its strict border restrictions on leisure travelers from specific countries, has announced its ban on visitors from eight African countries.
Similar restrictions have gone into effect in Singapore, which has barred anyone with a recent history of travel to seven southern African countries from entering or transiting the city-state.
Tighter restrictions in the Asia-Pacific region followed quick steps taken by countries worldwide to limit the spread of the omicron variant just days after South African researchers discovered it. The approach of act first, asking questions later reflected growing concern about the emergence of a potentially more contagious variant nearly two years into a pandemic that has killed over five million people, upended lives, and disrupted economies worldwidehe world.
While much resides unknown about the new variant, researchers are concerned that it may be more resistant to vaccine protection, which could mean that the pandemic lasts longer than expected.
According to the department, the travelers were from one of nine African countries required to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival in Sydney. South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, and Seychelles are involved.
Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister, stated that the island nation took that risk. As a result, only New Zealand citizens from nine African countries will enter New Zealand beginning late Sunday.
Source: CBCB News