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Politics

UK confirms two cases of Omicron variant – POLITICO

The UK’s well being authorities have registered two confirmed cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Well being Secretary Sajid Javid mentioned at present.

“We’ve been made conscious [by the UK Health Security Agency] of two UK cases of the Omicron variant. The two cases 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 “pink checklist” from early Sunday morning. On Friday, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini had been added to the checklist, bringing a brief suspension of flights and strict controls on travellers. The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa.

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Residents from exterior the U.Okay. or Eire who’ve been in these nations over the previous 10 days will refused entry into England. UK and Irish residents need to isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days.

Javid mentioned additional focused testing is being rolled out across the cities of Nottingham and Chelmsford, the place the Omicron cases had been discovered, together with sequencing all optimistic cases.

“It is a fast-moving scenario and we’re taking decisive steps to guard public well being,” he mentioned.

Omicron was categorised as a “variant of concern” by the WHO on Friday and as a excessive threat variant by the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management resulting from “severe considerations that it might considerably scale back the effectiveness of vaccines and enhance the chance of reinfections.”

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It was first detected in Europe in Belgium on Friday. Dutch authorities on Saturday mentioned that 61 travellers from South Africa examined optimistic 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 evening tweeted that “a number of mutations typical of Omicron had been discovered” on a passenger getting 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 nations. The U.S. and several other different nations are taking comparable steps.

The South African authorities lamented such bans, saying it is being punished for effectively detecting variants and sharing information overtly, suggesting the restrictions may discourage others from coming ahead.

“While we respect the appropriate of all nations to take the required precautionary measures to guard their residents, we have to do not forget that this pandemic requires collaboration and sharing of experience. Our quick concern is the injury that these restrictions are inflicting to households, the journey and tourism industries and enterprise,” South African Minister for Worldwide Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor said in a press release.

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