• The WHO has classified a new variant first detected in Botswana as being “of concern” and has given it the code name “Omicron”
  • Early evidence suggests it is more transmissible and carries a higher risk of re-infection than other variants
  • The head of the lab that first sequenced the new Omicron variant has told the BBC that there are “a lot of mutations that are new and that we haven’t seen before”
  • Dozens of countries around the world, including the US, EU and UK, have imposed travel bans against a number of southern African nations in a bid to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant.
  • The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has warned that the new variant is likely to spread quickly within the EU and may escape protection offered by vaccines.
  • And there have been fresh protests in the Netherlands, after Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced new restrictions, including the closure of all hospitality settings by 17.00.

Summary

  1. The World Health Organization designates the new highly mutated strain of Covid a “variant of concern” and gives it the Greek name Omicron
  2. Health Secretary Sajid Javid says there is “huge international concern” over the variant – but there are no UK cases
  3. The variant has been found in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong – and one case has been confirmed in Europe, in Belgium
  4. The US, UK, EU states and Switzerland halt travel to and from seven African nations
  5. Other countries including the UAE, Israel, Japan, Kenya and Singapore have also restricted travel
  6. The World Health Organization cautions against travel bans but has held a special meeting to discuss the variant
  7. A top UK health official calls it “the most significant variant” to date, while an Oxford scientist tells the BBC: “It is bad news but it’s not doomsday”

Link to BBC Page

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