Boston, Massachusetts 2021-11-27 07:42:00 –
The Hague, The Netherlands (AP) — New restrictions on travel from countries in southern Africa as the world rushes on Saturday to include a new variant of the coronavirus that may be more resistant to the protection provided. It was imposed. Depends on the vaccine.
Many countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Iran, Japan, Thailand and the United States, have joined other countries, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, and restricted to countries in southern Africa in response to warnings about the contagiousness of new variants. I imposed. — Contrary to the advice of the World Health Organization.
Despite the flight shutdown, there was increasing evidence that the variant was already widespread. Cases have been reported by travelers in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, and cases are possible in Germany. Dutch authorities are checking for new variants after 61 passengers have been tested positive for COVID-19 on two flights from South Africa.
Global health agencies have named the new mutant Omicron and labeled it a strain of concern because of early evidence that it has a high number of mutations and is more infectious than other mutants. increase. This means that people who have recovered from COVID-19 may catch it again. It may take several weeks to find out if the current vaccine is ineffective against it.
The previous outbreaks of the pandemic are partially fueled by loose borders, as the uncertainty about Omicron variants is so high that scientists are unlikely to materialize the findings over the weeks. Knowing that countries around the world are taking a safety-first approach. policy.
“It seems to be spreading rapidly,” President Joe Biden said on Friday about the new variant. The day after celebrating the resumption of Thanksgiving gatherings for millions of American families and at least the feeling that the normal lives of vaccinated people have returned. “We decided to be cautious,” he told reporters when he announced the new travel ban.
Approximately two years have passed since the pandemic that claimed the lives of more than 5 million people around the world began, and countries are becoming more vigilant.
Dutch officials quarantined 61 people who tested positive for COVID-19 when they arrived in the Netherlands on two flights from South Africa on Friday. They are conducting further research to see if any of the travelers have a variant of Omicron.
The plane arrived in the Netherlands from Johannesburg and Cape Town shortly after the Dutch government banned flights from southern African countries.
The 539 travelers who tested negative were allowed to return or continue their journey to another country. Those who live in the Netherlands and are allowed to return home under government regulations must be quarantined for at least 5 days.
German officials also said on Saturday that it is “very likely” that a variant of Omicron has already arrived in the country.
Kai Klose, the health minister of Hessen, including Frankfurt, said in a tweet that “some mutations typical of Omicron” were found in travelers returning from South Africa, who had been quarantined at home. The test ordering was not yet complete.
The rapid spread of the subspecies among South African adolescents surprised medical professionals, even though there were no immediate signs that the subspecies would cause more serious illness. In just two weeks, Omicron changed the period of low infection in the country into a period of rapid growth.
Many pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, said they have plans to adapt the vaccine in the light of the advent of Omicron.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, expressed cautious optimism that existing vaccines may be effective in preventing serious illnesses caused by Omicron variants.
He said most of the mutations appear to be in areas similar to those of other varieties.
“It shows that despite these mutations present in other variants, the vaccine continues to prevent serious illness as it passes through alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.” He told BBC Radio. “There is optimism that the vaccine should still be effective against new variants of serious disease, at least from a speculative point of view, but in reality, wait a few weeks for it to be confirmed. is needed.”
“It is very unlikely that a pandemic restart will occur in the vaccinated population as we saw last year,” he added.
Some experts said the emergence of this variant indicates that vaccine storage by developed countries could prolong the pandemic.
In Africa, less than 6% of people are fully immunized to COVID-19, and millions of healthcare workers and vulnerable people have not yet received a single dose. These conditions accelerate the spread of the virus and increase the chances of it evolving into a dangerous variant.
Piras contributed from London. Geir Moulson of Berlin contributed to this report.
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