Omicron global update: US confirms its first case
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Cape Town – It has been just over one week since South African scientists discovered the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, with the United States reporting its first case on Thursday.
According to news broadcaster Al Jazeera, a fully vaccinated traveller who returned home to California on November 22 had tested positive after a visit to South Africa.
In a statement by the White House on Monday, US President Joe Biden urged citizens to get vaccinated and said lockdown is not needed. A strategy is in place, which includes stricter testing rules for international visitors heading into winter, Biden said.
The US has already imposed travel bans on South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi and eSwatini.
“We're going to fight and beat this new variant,” Biden said.
While a number of countries have closed their borders and imposed travel bans, BioNTech’s chief Ugur Sahin called on people to not “freak out”.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Sahin said it’s likely that vaccinated people could be reinfected with the Covid-19 Omicron variant; however, it is unlikely they will suffer severe illness.
“Our message is: don’t freak out. The plan remains the same, to speed up the administration of a third booster shot,” said Sahin.
“Whether or not we will need extra protection by an adapted vaccine, this remains to be seen, later,” he said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities have tightened the country’s border control, which includes reduced movement of people in public and limiting the volume of traffic on toll roads to stop the spread of Omicron.
Further, Japan and Hong Kong announced on Wednesday plans to expand travel curbs and added Portugal and Sweden to their list of travel restrictions.
African News Agency (ANA)