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The emergence of another coronavirus variant in South Africa sparked global concern on Friday, prompting countries to restrict travel from a number of southern Africa countries.
New Covid Variant Disrupts Air Travel
The new strain was termed “Omicron” by a World Health Organization panel and classified as a highly transmissible virus, the same category as the Delta version.
According to WHO, Omicron may pose more hazards than Delta, the world’s most prevalent type, which has spurred persistent outbreaks of transmission across every continent.
Initial evidence implies higher risk of reinfection when compared to other highly communicable forms, indicating that people who had COVID-19 and recovered may be at risk of contracting it again.
The United States and Canada joined the EU and other countries in imposing a travel ban on visitors from southern Africa, where the strain is likely to have originated and caused a new wave of infections.
Health experts, including the WHO, have cautioned against overreacting until the variant is properly known.
However, nearly two years after COVID-19 surfaced and caused a pandemic that killed over 5 million people worldwide, an anxious world fears the worst.
Omicron has already been seen in travelers from Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.
Although the new genetic variation appears concerning, it is still unclear how serious a public health issue this is.
Previous varieties, such as the Beta, initially alarmed scientists but did not spread widely.
EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said,
“Flights will have to be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed by this new variant, and travelers returning from this region should respect strict quarantine rules.”
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against imposing travel bans on nations that have reported the new strain.
According to the report, similar travel prohibitions in the past have “not yielded a meaningful outcome.”
Nonetheless, the majority of countries have decided to close their borders for now.
Let’s hope not for too long.
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