The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a new coronavirus variant to be of concern and named it Omicron.
The new Covid-19 variant called Omicron has a large number of mutations and early evidence suggested an increased reinfection risk according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The variant was first reported by World Health Organisation from South Africa on 24 November and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel but some scientists say that this variant may be widespread already but not yet detected in some places.
This Omicron variant has caused panic and concern and a number of countries around the world have decided to ban or restrict travel to and from Southern Africa.
According to the UK, travelers from South Africa, Nambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini will not be allowed to enter the UK unless they are the UK or Irish nationals or UK residents.
US officials said flights from SOuthAfrica, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi would be blocked from entering the US and the same measures and restrictions have been taken by both Australia and Brazil.
The number of Omicron variant cases initially named B.1.1.529, appeared to be increasing in almost all of South Africa’s provinces according to World Health Organisation(WHO).
According to WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
World Health Organisation says that it will take a few weeks to understand the impact of a new variant as scientists worked to determine how transmissible it was.
Some scientists have warned that vaccines would almost certainly be less effective against the new variant but professor James Naismith, a structural biologist from the University of Oxford said that it’s bad news but not doomsday.
He said that mutations in the new variant suggested it may spread quickly but transmissibility is not just as simple as this amino acid does this and was determined by how mutations worked together.
Only about 24%of the South African population is fully vaccinated which could spur a rapid spread of cases according to Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group.
US infectious disease chief Dr. Athony Fauci said that while the report about a new variant of covid-19 threw up a red flag, it was possible that vaccines might still work to prevent serious illness “until properly tested, we don’t know whether or not it evades the anti-bodies that protect you against the virus” he said.
Despite World Health Organisation warning against countries hastily imposing travel restrictions without looking at risk-based and scientific approaches, many countries have imposed travel bans and restrictions from Southern African countries of South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, Seychelles.
Those countries which have imposed a travel ban or restrictions include Iran, the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, India, and Japan with the list expected to increase.
The travel bans and restrictions put in place by some countries have led to worries about a reduction in air travel, tourism, and renewed lockdown sending all major markets across the world in red territories.
After those restrictions and travel bans were put in place, South A Africa’s health minister Joe Phaahla told reporters that flight bans were unjustified urging that the reaction of some of the countries in terms of imposing travel bans, and such measures are completely against the norms and standards as guided by the world health organization.
The variant has an astounding collection of mutations which are thought to increase its ability to spread and bypass some but not all of the protection offered by the vaccines but we may whoever still wait for real-world data in order to have a clear picture.
It seems Joe Biden’s administration and other leaders from the UK, EU, and Australia have learned from previous lessons and arent willing to take any chances this time with this new omicron variant.