Roundup: countries scramble to contain spread of Omicron variant

A growing number of countries are scrambling to protect themselves against the new “Omicron” variant of the coronavirus by banning flights from southern African nations where it is believed to be spreading, although there have already been several cases confirmed in Europe.

The South African government said the cascade of travel bans is “akin to punishing” the country “for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker”.

The omicron variant is “of concern”, the World Health Organization has said, because of its high number of mutations. In just two weeks some 30 mutations have been detected, with cases confirmed not only in South Africa but also in neighboring Botswana, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Belgium.


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