61 passengers from South Africa test positive upon arrival in the Netherlands and the authorities are studying whether it is the new variant
The United Kingdom detected two cases of infection with the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in people “related to travel to South Africa”, the British Department of Health reported on Saturday.
«The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that two cases of Covid-19 have been identified with mutations compatible with [la variante] B.1.1.529 in the UK, ”the department said in a statement, adding that infected people and their families will be isolated.
“The two cases are related (to each other) and to a trip to southern Africa,” the statement said. The health authorities specified that one of them was detected in the city of Nottingham (center) and the other in Chelmsford (east of London).
In addition, sixty-one passengers on two flights from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Amsterdam and their results are being examined to see if it is the new omicron variant, Dutch health authorities announced.
“We know that 61 of the tests are positive and 531 negative,” said the Dutch health authority (GGD) in a statement, explaining that the people who tested positive are in quarantine in a hotel near the airport. “The positive results will be quickly examined to see if they are related to the worrying new variant, called omicron,” the statement said.
All passengers who test positive must be quarantined at the hotel for at least seven days if they have symptoms or five days if they are asymptomatic, according to the GGD. Passengers who are not positive but who live in the Netherlands will have to isolate themselves at home and those who do not reside in this country will be able to continue their journey.
On Friday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) stated that the risk of the new variant of covid-19 spreading across Europe is “high to very high.” The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that this variant is “worrisome” like the currently dominant delta and previously detected alpha, beta and gamma.
The new mutation was first reported by South Africa on November 24. Since Friday, more and more countries have suspended travel to southern Africa or decided to shield themselves from flights from this region of the world. Concern sent world stock markets plummeting and oil prices retreating on Friday, at a time when the global economy is trying to lift itself out of the ravages of the pandemic.
In this context, South African Health Minister Joe Phaala has lamented the “unjustified” travel bans of the international community against the country following the discovery and spread of the new variant.
Brazil closes its air borders to six African countries
The Brazilian government has announced that from next Monday it will close its air borders to six African countries for fear that the new variant of coronavirus B.1.1.529, known as omicron, will spread.
The Prime Minister of the Civil House, Ciro Nogueira, has reported that this restriction will be imposed on travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe, according to the Brazilian media UOL. “We are going to protect Brazilians in this new phase of the pandemic,” remarked Nogueira, who has stressed that the measure has been adopted jointly by the Civil House and the ministries of Infrastructure, Health, Justice and Public Safety.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro indicated this Friday prior to Nogueira’s announcement that closing the air borders for the new variant was “madness”, arguing that “Brazil no longer supports a confinement.” The South American giant is one of the countries most affected by covid-19, which has already left more than 22 million confirmed cases and close to 615,000 deaths.
On the other hand, the Minister of Health of Guatemala, Francisco Coma, has detailed this Friday entry restrictions in the country for travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Eswatini. Thus, those who have been in any of these countries in the last 14 days will not be able to enter the Central American country by air, land or sea, according to the Guatemalan media ‘La Prensa’.