The UK’s well being authorities have registered two confirmed instances of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Well being Secretary Sajid Javid stated right now.
“Now we have been made conscious [by the UK Health Security Agency] of two UK instances of the Omicron variant. The 2 instances are linked and there’s a reference to journey to southern Africa. These people are self-isolating with their households whereas additional testing and call tracing is underway,” he tweeted.
The U.Okay. is including Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola to its journey “purple listing” from early Sunday morning. On Friday, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini had been added to the listing, bringing a brief suspension of flights and strict controls on travellers. The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa.
Residents from outdoors the U.Okay. or Eire who’ve been in these international locations over the previous 10 days will refused entry into England. UK and Irish residents should isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days.
Javid stated additional focused testing is being rolled out across the cities of Nottingham and Chelmsford, the place the Omicron instances had been discovered, together with sequencing all constructive instances.
“It is a fast-moving state of affairs and we’re taking decisive steps to guard public well being,” he stated.
Omicron was labeled as a “variant of concern” by the WHO on Friday and as a excessive danger variant by the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management as a result of “severe considerations that it could considerably cut back the effectiveness of vaccines and enhance the danger of reinfections.”
It was first detected in Europe in Belgium on Friday. Dutch authorities on Saturday stated that 61 travellers from South Africa examined constructive for the coronavirus, and researchers are ascertaining whether or not it’s the Omicron variant. Kai Klose, state minister president for the German state of Hesse, on Friday night time tweeted that “a number of mutations typical of Omicron had been discovered” on a passenger coming back from South Africa, however full genetic sequencing continues to be pending.
The European Union on Friday moved to ban journey from seven Southern African international locations. The U.S. and a number of other different international locations are taking comparable steps.
The South African authorities lamented such bans, saying it is being punished for effectively detecting variants and sharing knowledge brazenly, suggesting the restrictions would possibly discourage others from coming ahead.
“While we respect the suitable of all international locations to take the mandatory precautionary measures to guard their residents, we have to keep in mind that this pandemic requires collaboration and sharing of experience. Our fast concern is the harm that these restrictions are inflicting to households, the journey and tourism industries and enterprise,” South African Minister for Worldwide Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor stated in an announcement.