The UK tightened rules on mask wearing and testing for international arrivals on Saturday after discovering two new, potentially more contagious, Omicron variants of the coronavirus that were identified in South Africa a few days ago.
There is growing concern around the world that pandemics and associated blockade restrictions will last much longer than expected, in the fear that new variants may be more resistant to the protection provided by the vaccine.
Approximately two years have passed since the pandemic that claimed the lives of more than 5 million people around the world began, and countries are becoming more vigilant. Many countries are already imposing travel restrictions on flights from southern Africa as they are trying to gain time to assess whether the Omicron variant is more contagious than the current predominant Delta variant. doing.
To slow the spread in the UK, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the two needed to take “targeted precautions” after they tested positive for the new variant in the UK.
“For now, this is a responsible course of action to delay the sowing and dissemination of this new variety and maximize our defenses,” he said at a press conference.
In the measures announced, Johnson said that those arriving in the UK would be required to undergo a mandatory PCR test for COVID-19 two days after arrival and would have to self-quarantine until a negative test was provided. He said he had to. He also said that if someone tests positive for the omicron variant, close contacts should be self-quarantined for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. Currently, close contacts are exempt from quarantine regulations if they are fully vaccinated.
He also said masks need to be worn in stores and public transport, and an independent group of scientists advising the British government on the deployment of coronavirus vaccines is being called upon to accelerate vaccination programs. This includes expanding the booster program to younger age groups, shortening the period between the second dose and the booster, and allowing older children to receive the second dose. There is a possibility.
“From today, we’re going to boost the booster campaign,” he said.
The UK Department of Health said the two cases found in the UK were related and related to travel from southern Africa. One of the two new cases occurred in the southeastern town of Brentwood, and the other in the central city of Nottingham. The two confirmed cases are self-isolation with the household during contact tracing and targeted testing.
Starting Sunday, the UK Government has added four countries to the national travel red list: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Six locations were added on Friday: Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This means that anyone authorized to arrive from these destinations must be quarantined.
Many countries have lifted restrictions in response to warnings about the communicability of new variants to various countries in southern Africa, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Thailand and the United States. bottom. World Health Organization advice.
Despite the flight ban, there is growing concern that variants are already widely seeded around the world. Cases have been reported in travelers from Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, in addition to the United Kingdom.
Germany also said it suspected three positive cases while Italy was investigating the positive cases recently returned from southern Africa. Dutch officials were also testing whether 61 people arriving on two COVID-19 flights from South Africa had the Omicron variant. Israel said it is tracking 800 travelers who have recently returned from countries in southern Africa.
The rapid spread of the subspecies among South African adolescents surprised medical professionals, even though there were no immediate signs that the subspecies would cause more serious illness.
Many pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, said they have plans to adapt the vaccine in the light of the advent of Omicron. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they expect to be able to fine-tune the vaccine in about 100 days.
Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, was cautiously optimistic that existing vaccines could be effective in preventing serious diseases caused by Omicron mutants, and most mutations. Is another variant.
“At least from a speculative point of view, there is optimism that the vaccine is also effective against new variants of serious illness, but in reality you have to wait a few weeks for it to be confirmed. “He told BBC Radio.
Some experts said the emergence of this variant indicates that vaccine storage by developed countries could prolong the pandemic.
In Africa, less than 6% of people are fully immunized to COVID-19, and millions of healthcare workers and vulnerable people have not yet received a single dose. These conditions accelerate the spread of the virus and increase the chances of it evolving into a dangerous variant.
“One of the key factors in the emergence of variants could be low vaccination rates in parts of the world. WHO requires us all to be safe and careful. Until then, we warn that no one is safe, “says Professor Peter Openshaw. Of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London.
Britain strengthens COVID rules as a world on alert over Omicron | Chicago News
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