Covid omicron news live: Latest updates as US reports 10 cases in five states

<p> A Covid-19 test center operates inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on 1 December 2021 in Los Angeles, California</p>

A Covid-19 test center operates inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on 1 December 2021 in Los Angeles, California

(Getty Images)

The US has confirmed 10 cases of the omicron variant across five states, even as president Joe Biden urged the public not to panic.

The cases reported in California, Colorado and Minnesota were among fully vaccinated individuals who developed mild symptoms, while Hawaii reported a case with an unvaccinated individual who had moderate symptoms. A 76-year-old New York resident recently returned from South Africa also tested positive for the new variant.

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced a negative Covid-19 test, taken within a day before the flight, would be required for all travellers above the age of 2 coming to the US.

Panama and Nepal have joined the list of countries blocking travellers from African nations due to concerns over the spread of omicron. The countries include South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

And Germany has tightened restrictions on unvaccinated individuals, barring them from much of public life in a bid to tackle the surge in infections. Under the new rules, those who are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from the infection would be allowed in restaurants, cinemas and shops — others won’t be. Parliament might also soon vote to make vaccinations compulsory, announced the outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel.


Risk of omicron reinfection three times higher, finds a study

The risk of reinfection from the omicron variant is three times higher than the previous delta or beta variants, revealed a preliminary study by South African scientists on Thursday.

The findings also provide evidence about the omicron variant’s “ability to evade immunity from prior infection”. “Recent reinfections have occurred in individuals whose primary infections occurred across all three waves, with the most having their primary infection in the Delta wave,” tweeted Juliet Pulliam, director of the South African Center for Epidemiological Modelling.

The study has not been peer-reviewed, reported AFP.

Namita Singh3 December 2021 07:02


South Korea makes vaccine pass mandatory for public places

South Korea on Friday announced it was making vaccine passes mandatory for those visiting restaurants, cinemas and other public places.

The new rules came amid a surge in Covid-19 infections and as the country has reported five cases of the omicron variant. The authorities have also made a 10-day quarantine mandatory for fully vaccinated inbound travellers.

File: People walk along a street on 1 November 2021 in Seoul, South Korea

(Getty Images)

Namita Singh3 December 2021 06:58


Malaysia reports first case of omicron

Malaysia is the latest in the list of countries to have detected its first case of the omicron variant, confirmed the country’s health minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

The variant was reported in a foreign passenger who arrived in the country from South Africa via Singapore on 19 November.

Namita Singh3 December 2021 06:55


Indian doctor with no travel history tests positive for omicron

Among the two people who tested positive for the omicron variant in India, while one person is a South African national and has returned to his country, another is a 46-year-old Indian doctor who does not have any travel history.

The details were revealed by the health minister of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, where both the cases were reported.

The case has raised concerns about the presence of the variant in the community. The doctor’s five immediate contacts, including two family members and a colleague, have also tested positive for the virus, with their samples sent for genome sequencing to confirm the variant.

Namita Singh3 December 2021 05:55


Nepal bans travellers from eight African countries

Nepal has joined the list of countries banning travellers coming from eight African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi. The ban which went into effect at midnight on Friday also includes travellers from Hong Kong.

The international travellers would be denied entry if they have entered any of these countries in the past three weeks, while those already in transit, must spend seven days in a hotel quarantine.

“Nepali nationals are advised against non-essential foreign travel for fear of the new variant,” Home Ministry spokesman Phanindra Pokharel told Reuters.

File: A Jazeera Airways plane approaches to land while a man wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 walks under at the Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu

(AFP via Getty Images)

Namita Singh3 December 2021 05:15


Panama blocks travellers from eight African countries

Panama has announced a temporary ban on travellers entering the country from eight African nations due to concerns over the potentially more infectious omicron variant.

The restrictions cover those who have travelled through South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Malawi within a period of the last two weeks.

Under the new travel rules, while vaccinated Panamanians and residents must show a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of boarding the flight, the unvaccinated would be required to place themselves in “preventive quarantine”.

People wait to be inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, at the Carlos A Mendoza school in San Miguelito neighbourhood in Panama City on 4 March 2021.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Namita Singh3 December 2021 04:58


Germany imposes sweeping curbs on the unvaccinated

In a bid to tackle its surge in Covid-19 infections, Germany has imposed sweeping curbs on unvaccinated individuals banning them from entering bars, restaurants and cinemas.

Uninoculated individuals will also not be allowed to enter the country’s famous Christmas markets. And the German parliament is considering going one step further, Angela Merkel said on Thursday, and making Covid vaccination compulsory for all.

“You can see from the decisions that we have understood the situation is very serious,” said the outgoing chancellor. “Given the situation, I think it is appropriate to adopt compulsory vaccination.

People, many wearing protective face masks, walk past Christmas market stalls at Alter Markt during the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic on 30 November 2021 in Cologne, Germany

(Getty Images)

Namita Singh3 December 2021 04:43


New Covid testing restriction for travellers entering US

The Biden administration has tightened pre-departure Covid testing rules for all inbound international travellers, requiring a negative test taken within 24 hours of departure for the US. Earlier, the test could be taken up to three days before entering the country. The rule applies equally to citizens and non-citizens.

Additionally, the foreign nationals must also be fully vaccinated.

Travelers arrive for flights at Newark Liberty International Airport on 30 November 2021 in Newark, New Jersey

(Getty Images)

Namita Singh3 December 2021 04:28


Welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the latest Covid news on Friday 3 December, including developments with the omicron variant that has sparked international concern.

Namita Singh3 December 2021 04:14

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