US reports first Omicron case adding to global alarm over the new COVID variant

Dec 2, 2021: Since the first case was reported in the United States, concerns have been raised about the various effects of the Omicron corona virus variant, and the Japanese central bank is warning of economic woes as countries tighten preventive measures.

The case was a fully vaccinated man in California who returned from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive seven days later.

President Joe Biden is working on a US strategy to fight COVID-19 this winter, and sources briefing the issue said one step would be to increase the need for passengers to wear masks by mid-March.

The White House also intends to announce strict screening rules for international visitors. The World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhov said on Wednesday that the data should be available “within days” which would indicate how contagious Omicron is.

The CEO of BioNTech had earlier said that the vaccine it develops in partnership with Pfizer should provide strong protection against the serious disease caused by Omicron.

Concerns from the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 grew in Australia on Thursday, boosting state governments’ tightening of domestic border controls. The country’s most populous state, New South Wales, reported its seventh such case, a man who arrived from Doha, Qatar, on November 23, and noted that the man was not in South Africa. This Suggests that he caught the virus during the flight.

Meanwhile authorities in Indonesia have tightened border curbs, extended quarantine and limited movement on strategic toll roads, in a preemptive move to limit the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant

The country enforced new domestic travel measures including limiting the volume of traffic on toll roads to reduce people movement, according to the transport minister.

Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci says it could take two weeks or more to gain an insight into how easily Omicron spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and whether it can evade currently available vaccines.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, which was first detected by South African researchers on November 8 and has spread to at least two dozen countries.

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said early epidemiological data suggests Omicron was able to evade some immunity, but existing vaccines should still protect against severe disease and death.

South Korea has halted quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travellers for two weeks after reporting a new high of daily coronavirus cases.

South Korea confirmed its first five Omicron cases on Wednesday.

Britain and the US have both expanded their booster programmes in response to the new variant, although the WHO says wealthy countries should instead share more vaccines with vulnerable people in poorer countries where variants are most likely to emerge as long as inoculation rates are low.

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