After Belgium, UK reports two Omicron variant cases

WION Web Team
London Published: Nov 27, 2021, 08:06 PM(IST)

Passengers walk through the International arrivals area of Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

UK had banned flights to South Africa after authorities revealed they had discovered the B.1.1.529 variant which reportedly has several mutations. The WHO had classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.

The British government on Saturday confirmed the existence of two cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

UK had banned flights to South Africa after authorities revealed they had discovered the B.1.1.529 variant which reportedly has several mutations.

Also Read: Passengers arriving from South Africa at Amsterdam airport test positive for COVID-19

According to UK health secretary Sajid Javid, the two people who were detected with the new virus variant have been self-isolating.

The UK government said the two cases were linked to southern Africa as it moved to expand the travel ban to four more African countries namely Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi who were placed on the "red list".

The British government had already placed six southern African nations on a travel ban on Friday including Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had moved to designate B.1.1.529 as a "variant of concern" late on Friday. 

Watch: EU, US restrict travel from South Africa 

The UK has been witnessing a steady rise in coronavirus cases over the past months even as it has vaccinated over 80 per cent of its citizens.

Also Read | Omicron: What does variant of concern mean?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had spoken to President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier after Britain decided to block flight from the country as Belgium became the first country in Europe to report the new Omicron variant. 

Also Read: Omicron-typical mutations were found in a traveller, says German minister

South African minister Phaahla had called the flight ban a "knee-jerk and panic" reaction. After Britain, other European countries including Austria, Italy, France and the Netherlands also imposed flight bans.

The Omicron variant was also discovered in Israel, Hong Kong and Botswana on Friday.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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