Omicron is now in UK and possibly Germany

Nov 27, 2021

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The new COVID variant Omicron has been detected in the UK. Health officials announced Saturday that the variant has been found in cases in Chelmsford, Essex, and in Nottingham. All were connected to travel in southern Africa. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a press conference at Downing Street later today to provide further details.

Also on Saturday, German officials announced they were investigating a suspected case of Omicron in a person who had just returned from South Africa.

The World Health Organization has deemed Omicron a “variant of concern,” its most severe category. Omicron contains several spike protein mutations that may make it less responsive to COVID-19 vaccines. There are also signs it may be more contagious than other variants. Health officials around the world are scrambling to try to conduct further research on Omicron, as well as contain its spread.

The worrisome new variant was first reported by South Africa on Nov. 24. Thus far, it has also been detected in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel and now the UK.

Related: WHO urges restraint on travel bans as alarming new variant is spotted

Citing the need to take precautions until more is known about the variant, President Biden announced travel restrictions from several African countries on Friday. As of Nov. 29, flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be blocked. Only U.S. citizens and residents will be allowed to travel from the region.

Related: High cases and lockdowns in Europe could foreshadow grim winter travel season

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