Authorities around the world have begun taking steps to curb the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus Omicron as the holiday season enters its full swing. On FridayThe World Health Organization has recognized a highly mutated variant of the coronavirus, first identified in South Africa, as a “variant of concern” due to preliminary evidence that it could be more contagious and more resistant to inoculation than previous strains.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said state of emergency on Friday amid growing concerns about the Omicron variant and a rise in the state’s coronavirus infection rate due to the already circulating Delta variant. She said that although the Omicron variant has not yet been identified in the state, this executive order is giving the green light to the New York health department to limit unimportant, non-emergency procedures in hospitals, expand hospital capacity and procure pandemic supplies, which should help avoid shortages of staff and equipment.
“We continue to see warning signs of jumps this coming winter, and while a new variant of Omicron has yet to be unveiled in New York State, it is coming,” Hochul told press release.
The order takes effect on December 3 and will be reassessed on January 15 based on the latest covid-19 data. President Joe Biden also announced travel ban from eight South African countries takes effect on Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the United States so far. It will continue to monitor the situation and is cooperating with South African authorities to monitor its expansion. If the variant does appear in the U.S., “we expect Omicron to be identified quickly,” the agency said. Friday.
Across the pond, cases of a new variant of Omicron were uncovered on Saturday in the UK, Germany and Italy, sparking a wave of travel bans across Europe, Reuters reports. The variant was previously discovered in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that two cases had been identified in the UK so far. This was confirmed by the Minister of Health, Sajid Javid Reuters that these cases are interrelated and related to travel to South Africa.
To slow the expansion, Johnson announced stricter mask mandates and self-isolation requirements for incoming passengers. Face masks now have to be worn in retail outlets and on public transport in the UK, and arrivals from all countries will have to self-isolate until tests are negative for the virus.
“We need to buy time for our scientists to figure out exactly what we’re dealing with,” he said press release.
Johnson, Hochul, Biden and other authorities around the world are urging citizens to get the vaccine if they have not already. Last week, The CDC has extended the requirements for the covid-19 supplementary vaccine to all adults who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Modern vaccine at least six months ago. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna predict that data will become available in the next few weeks regarding the effectiveness of their vaccines against the Omicron variant, Reuters reports. Pfizer and BioNTech said they could produce a new vaccine adapted to the Omicron variant and that the doses would be delivered in about 100 days. Modern has it is also said to work on an amplifier adapted to the new variant.
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