World Johnson Says U.K. Awaiting Advice on Omicron Risks Before Review
Omicron Variant: Germany, Czech Republic Report Suspected Cases After U.K. Confirmation
Several countries, including the U.S., Japan and Israel, have announced travel restrictions to avoid the mass spread of the latest COVID variant.Germany's Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration said Saturday that an individual who traveled to Germany from South Africa is suspected to be infected with the Omicron variant.
(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson said his U.K. government is still waiting for guidance on the omicron variant of Covid-19 ahead of a review of pandemic rules in mid-December, but ministers don’t yet see a need to change course.
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“We’re still waiting to see exactly how dangerous it is; what sort of effect it has in terms of deaths and hospitalizations” the British prime minister told reporters in Liverpool, northern England on Monday.
Scotland Officials Concerned Omicron Variant Has Community Spread as 6 Cases Confirmed
Countries throughout the world are taking action to prevent a proliferation of the variant as scientists are still working to determine the danger it poses. Some nations like Japan have decided to block any foreign visitors in an effort to stop the highly mutated variant from entering its borders even as cases began popping up around the globe, AP reported.For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.New cases in Portugal and Scotland might already point toward local spread of the variant outside of southern Africa.
Politically wary of imposing further rules on a restive public, the government has said that while people should employ common sense in the run-up to seasonal celebrations, parties should not be canceled altogether.
But Johnson is under fire over allegations of a party at his office in December 2020, at a time when such gatherings were strictly banned. Opposition Labour Party MPs have referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police, while the prime minister has repeatedly said no rules were broken.
Meanwhile the scientist behind the U.K.’s joint Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will warn that the U.K. should remain cautious until officials know the effects of the new omicron variant because it is so easy to pass on.
Americans face at least 2 weeks of uncertainty as scientists work to answer 3 key questions about the new Omicron variant
Americans face at least two weeks of uncertainty before major questions may get answered about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. © Steve Pfost/Newsday/Getty Images Stony Brook, N.Y.: Robert Baird, of Centereach, New York is given a booster shot as members of the community are administered the COVID-19 vaccination and booster at Stony Brook University Research and Development Park in Stony Brook, New York on Nov. 17, 2021.
“The spike protein of this variant contains mutations already known to increase transmisability of the virus but there are additional changes that may mean antibodies induced by the vaccines, or by infection with other variants, may be less effective at preventing infection with Omicron,” Sarah Gilbert, professor ofat Oxford University, will warn in a lecture Monday.
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“Until we know more, we should be cautious, and take steps to slow down the spread of this new variant,” she will say, according to the BBC. “But as we have seen before, reduced protection against infection and mild disease does not necessarily mean reduced protection against severe disease and death.”
On Saturday, officials announced all travelers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test from Tuesday in an effort to curb the spread of omicron, which has infected about 250 people in the U.K. since it was first detected in the country on Nov. 27. The government also banned travel from Southern Africa and increased the number of countries on its red list that require a 10-day quarantine.
How serious is omicron? It will take weeks to understand new COVID-19 variant, experts say.
The new omicron variant presents more questions (and uncertainty) than answers. And it will take a few weeks for data to be collected and tracked.The answer to all three is an unsatisfying “We don’t know yet.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modeling which advises the U.K. government, told the BBC on Sunday that the measures would not make a “material difference” because the variant is already “spreading pretty rapidly.”
“If omicron is here in the U.K., and it certainly is, if there’s community transmission in the U.K., and it certainly looks that way, then it’s that community transmission that will drive a next wave,” he told the Andrew Marr program.
Gilbert will also call for governments to continue funding pandemic preparedness, saying there will be viruses in the future that could pose an even bigger threat than Covid.
“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,” she will say. “The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”
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Rhode Island reports first case of omicron variant .
Rhode Island has reported its first case of the omicron variant, making it one of the dozens of states to have detected the new COVID-19 strain. Gov. Dan McKee (D) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced the omicron case in a joint statement on Saturday. The infected individual is in their 20s and recently traveled from New York to Providence, according to the statement. The individual was fully vaccinated, but did not have a booster shot. "We fully expected that Omicron would eventually be detected in Rhode Island as it has been in our neighboring states. I want to be clear: Rhode Island is prepared. This is not cause for panic," McKee said. Video: U.K.