A healthcare worker conducts a PCR Covid-19 test at a laboratory in Johannesburg Photograph: AFP
Omicron variant updates:
With the fear of a new variant taking over the region grows, Europe has surpassed 75 million coronavirus cases. In a few months, the new Covid variant could be responsible for more than half of all the cases, warned the European Union's public health agency.
The new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is spreading in Australia. The recent development will test the plans of the authorities to reopen the economy.
The Omicron variant could become dominant as it is highly transmissible, said World Health Organization's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan. She further added that a different vaccine may not be needed.
Dec 09, 2021, 10:53 AM
Pakistan reports its first ever case of Omicron variant
A recently returned woman has tested positive for Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Dec 06, 2021, 10:32 PM
Two individuals are foreign nations who had come to Nepal for business purpose. The health ministry said their nationalities will not be revealed due to security reasons.
Dec 06, 2021, 10:18 PM
Confirmed cases of Omicron variant in Israel rise to 21
Omicron cases rose to 21 as 10 additional cases were reported in the past 24 hours in Israel. Out of these 21, 16 patients had recently returned from abroad but five of them had not left the country in the recent past.
Dec 06, 2021, 10:16 PM
As per the data, cases increased alarmingly in 11 countries that have been vulnerable to malaria in the past few years. Number of infections increased from 150 million in 2015 to 163 million in 2020, and the deaths rose to 444,600 from 39,000.
Dec 06, 2021, 10:15 PM
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged authorities to get jabs as the number of COVID-19 cases showed a five-fold increase as cases rose to over 16,000 in a day last week.
Dec 06, 2021, 10:14 PM
The European Union is not expected to ease Omicron travel curbs on southern African countries, Reuters said citing three sources. EU health ministers will discuss coronavirus pandemic and spread of Omicron variant on Tuesday.
Dec 06, 2021, 10:13 PM
Russia reported its first two cases of the Omicron variant in citizens who had recently returned from South Africa. "Two citizens who returned to Russia from South Africa have been diagnosed with the Omicron coronavirus strain," the Rospotrebnadzor health agency said in a statement.
Dec 05, 2021, 10:37 PM
Experts have stressed that there has been no reported deaths or severe illness from the new variant which proves that it may not be as big a problem as some people have been portraying it to be in the past few weeks...Read More
Dec 05, 2021, 09:56 PM
Thousands of people marched in Brussels against Covid restrictions. The protests turned violent as some of the protesters started throwing stones at the police.
Police had to used tear gas in order to disperse the protesters.
Dec 05, 2021, 09:42 PM
Two relatives of Gujarat's first Omicron patient have been found positive for the infection.
Dec 05, 2021, 09:07 PM
Hundreds of people marched through Brussels on Sunday to protest Covid restrictions. Belgian governemnt has imposed these restrictions in response to spike in Covid cases. The measures came into effect on Friday
Dec 05, 2021, 08:52 PM
A Covid-19 working group of India's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) is likely to meet tomorrow. It has been reported that discussion will focus on Covid booster dose and pediatric vaccination.
Dec 05, 2021, 08:44 PM
After offering a ride to teens, whose parents are against inoculation, to site, vaccine advocates in Canada seem to have sparked a row. Along with facing backlash, the people, who support vaccination, are reportedly receiving threats
Dec 05, 2021, 08:35 PM
Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, has claimed that leaders around the globe have been assuming that the worst of this pandemic is behind us, but that is far from the truth.
Dec 05, 2021, 08:34 PM
With the additional cases in Maharashtra and Jaipur, the tally of Omicron infections has increased to 21 in India. Out of these 21, eight are in Maharashtra, nine in Jaipur, one in Delhi and Gujarat each, and two in Bangalore.
Dec 04, 2021, 11:13 PM
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has issued an apology for breaking the Covid mask regulations, saying she regrets the mistake.
Dec 04, 2021, 08:51 PM
Omicron spreads to more provinces in South Africa; Gauteng worst-hit
Gauteng which is considered the epicentre of the new variant recorded over 11,500 cases on Friday.
Reports claimed a number of children were reporting sick due to the virus in the province however the symptoms were relatively mild.
Dec 04, 2021, 08:04 PM
India reports fourth Omicron case from Mumbai
A man who returned to Indian's western Mumbai city from South Africa via Dubai, tested positive for Omicron Covid variant on Saturday. This is the fourth case in India.
"A man, who returned from foreign country to Kalyan Dombivali municipal area near Mumbai tested positive for Omicron variant of coronavirus," Maha health department said.
Dec 04, 2021, 07:23 PM
South Africa's COVID-19 infections surged to a record three million as a new wave driven by the Omicron variant surged through parts of the country.
The government reported 16,055 new cases in the last 24 hours taking the total number of cases to over 3,004,203.
Dec 04, 2021, 05:02 PM
Confirmed Omicron cases rise to 134 in Britain
The Omicron variant cases have now reportedly spread from London to east Midland including northwest and eastern England.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also taken the booster shot this week as he urged more people to take it amid the Omicron threat.
Dec 04, 2021, 04:49 PM
Omicron may have acquired a mutation from common cold virus, say researchers
If the researchers are to be believed, at least one mutation in Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to have been acquired from the common cold virus.
The genetic sequence in question doesn’t appear in earlier versions of the virus called SARS-CoV-2. It is, however, present in common cold virus and in human genome, said researchers.
Dec 04, 2021, 03:59 PM
UK reported 75 new cases of the variant on Saturday with 29 cases already reported the previous day taking the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country to 134.
Dec 04, 2021, 03:17 PM
India reports third Omicron case, Gujarat resident recently came from Zimbabwe
According to state health authorities, the infected patient is a 72-year-old Indian-origin man from Zimbabwe.
He had been living in the landlocked nation for decades and had returned to Jamnagar city on November 28.
Dec 04, 2021, 01:31 PM
The new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is spreading in Australia. The recent development will test the plans of the authorities to reopen the economy.
A cluster in Sydney has already grown to 13 cases. An infection was also suspected to have reached the state of Queensland.
Dec 04, 2021, 12:13 PM
South Korea reported a record daily 5,352 new COVID-19 infections and 70 deaths, while a nationwide total of nine cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday.
Dec 04, 2021, 12:12 PM
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is likely to cancel a planned trip to the United States for talks with President Joe Biden this month due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19
Dec 04, 2021, 10:47 AM
Europe has crossed 75 million coronavirus cases as the region braces for the new Omicron variant at a time when hospitals in some countries are already strained by the current surge.
Dec 04, 2021, 10:44 AM
Canada has confirmed 15 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus. The public health officials have said that severe illness trends across the country could start to rise again.
Dec 04, 2021, 10:40 AM
According to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, "A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence, and in that sense, we are likely to see some downgrades of our October projections for global growth."
Dec 04, 2021, 10:39 AM
The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, has said that the Omicron variant could become dominant because it is highly transmissible.
Dec 03, 2021, 08:57 PM
WHO's Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said it is still too early to understand the severity of the Omicron variant.
Dec 03, 2021, 08:53 PM
WHO's Mike Ryan at a press conference said today that the new variant doesn't mean that situation will get worse.
Dec 03, 2021, 08:01 PM
Switzerland said it has decided to drop 10-day quarantine rule for people flying in from countries where the Omicron variant has been detected.
"All countries are removed from the quarantine list as of Saturday," the government said.
The government however said tests should be conducted between the fourth and seventh day after entering Switzerland.
Dec 03, 2021, 06:20 PM
WHO has no reports yet of Omicron Covid deaths
The World Health Organization said Friday it had not seen any reports of deaths relating to the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The WHO said it was collecting evidence about the variant of concern (VOC), as countries around the world scramble to stop it from spreading.
But despite a growing number of countries registering infections with the new variant, no deaths have yet been reported to the UN health agency.
"I have not seen reports of Omicron-related deaths yet," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.
Dec 03, 2021, 06:19 PM
WHO warns Asia-Pacific to brace for Omicron, urges countries to speed up vaccination
The World Health Organisation on Friday warned the Asia-Pacific countries to brace for the Omicron variant, asking them to take immediate measures to boost health infrastructure and pace up the vaccination drive.
Dec 03, 2021, 04:09 PM
Australia reports Omicron cases in school
New South Wales health authorities asked people who had come into contact with school authorities to isolate themselves
Dec 03, 2021, 03:03 PM
At least 17 people infected with COVID-19 after attending a Christmas party in Oslo with over 100 visitors last week are suspected of possessing the Omicron form, according to municipal officials.
So far, 60 people have tested positive for COVID using PCR testing, while four people have tested positive using antigen tests.
Seventeen is most likely Omicron, but this hasn't been proven.
So far, following sequencing, one case has been verified as Omicron. "In a statement, the mayor of Oslo announced.
Between 100 and 120 individuals met for a Christmas dinner hosted by their business, all of whom were vaccinated and one of whom had just travelled to southern Africa.
Dec 03, 2021, 02:23 PM
Nearly a dozen cases of the omicron coronavirus variant have now been detected around the United States, with many of them confirmed in New York on Thursday.
New York and Hawaii are the latest to announce infections, and officials in both states said there is evidence of “community spread.”
Cases have also been detected in California, Minnesota and Colorado.
The Minnesota patient recently attended a New York City convention that drew thousands of people.
Dec 03, 2021, 01:34 PM
Geneva places 2,000 people in quarantine after two Omicron cases
The Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud have placed 2,000 people, most of them children, into quarantine after two cases of the Omicron variant were detected at an international school.
Geneva, a hub for international diplomats and home to the World Health Organization (WHO) which last week classified Omicron as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern", had previously confirmed one case in an individual who had returned from South Africa and another suspected case linked to the same individual.
Dec 03, 2021, 12:20 PM
Malaysia reports 1st Omicron variant case
Malaysia has identified its first case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Friday.
The individual is a non-Malaysian student from South Africa who arrived in the country on November 19, Khairy told a press conference, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said there is no cause for immediate concern as the individual had been quarantined on arrival, with contact tracing being done and exposed individuals being tested.
Dec 03, 2021, 11:52 AM
WHO says measures against delta work for omicron variant too
World Health Organisation officials in the Western Pacific say border closures adopted by some countries may buy time to deal with the omicron coronavirus variant, but measures put in place and experience gained in dealing with the delta variant should remain the foundation for fighting the pandemic.
While a few regional countries are facing surges, COVID-19 cases and deaths in many others have decreased and plateaued, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Takeshi Kasai told reporters Friday in a virtual news conference broadcast from Manila, Philippines.
?Border control can delay the virus coming in and buy time. But every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases," Kasai said. ?The positive news in all of this is that none of the information we have currently about omicron suggests we need to change the directions of our response."
Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, or if it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
Dec 03, 2021, 11:01 AM
Zimbabwe confirms presence of omicron variant in country
Zimbabwean Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Constantino Chiwenga has confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country.
He has urged the nation to step up vigilance and adherence to Covid-19 prevention and mitigation measures to curb a fourth wave of the pandemic.
"We are doing the genomic sequencing and we have already identified that we now have the omicron variant in this country and therefore we must remain vigilant," Chiwenga said, Xinhua news agency reported.
"We want everyone to be safe so let`s be vaccinated and let`s follow protocols," he added.
Dec 03, 2021, 09:05 AM
Germany locks down unvaccinated people, as leaders plan to make shots compulsory
Germany's authorities endorsed plans for mandatory vaccinations in the coming months, announcing a statewide lockdown for the unvaccinated on Thursday.
To combat the spread of the coronavirus, departing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor, Olaf Scholz, said Thursday that unvaccinated persons will be barred from entering all but the most necessary enterprises, such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
The two also approved measures for mandatory vaccinations, which, if passed by parliament, could go into force as early as February.
Unvaccinated persons are only allowed to meet two people from another home under the new rules.
In places where the incidence rate exceeds 350 cases per 100,000 persons in a week, bars and nightclubs must close.
In addition, the government would restrict the number of people who may attend big events such as soccer matches.
Dec 03, 2021, 08:08 AM
The state of New York has confirmed five cases of the coronavirus Omicron variant, Governor Kathy Hochul said Thursday, bringing the total number of US detections of the new strain to eight.
"New York State has confirmed five cases of the omicron variant," Hochul said in a Twitter post aimed at reassuring residents of the nation's fourth most populous state that the detections were not unexpected.
"Let me be clear: This is not cause for alarm. We knew this variant was coming and we have the tools to stop the spread," she said.
"Get your vaccine. Get your booster. Wear your mask."
Dec 03, 2021, 07:54 AM
The Biden administration is strengthening travel restrictions to and within the United States, mandating all inbound overseas travellers to take a Covid test within 24 hours of departure.
It will also prolong the necessity for wearing a mask on all domestic flights and public transit until March 18.
As the globe approaches its third year of the epidemic, the modifications are part of a larger effort to strengthen the country's arsenal of instruments in the battle against the virus.
Dec 02, 2021, 07:20 PM
Confirmation of Omicron cases in India not unexpected: WHO
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia, said the confirmation of Omicron variant by India, the first two cases in South-East Asia Region, was not unexpected in view of the interconnected world that we live in.
"Omicron variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Researchers around the world are conducting studies to better understand transmissibility, severity & immune escape capabilities of Omicron. WHO commends countries which have been able to quickly detect and report cases of the new Variant of Concern," she said.
Dec 02, 2021, 06:31 PM
State's public health director has said that information about these arrivals has been forwarded to district authorities for further action
Dec 02, 2021, 05:57 PM
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has said that its coronavirus drug called sotrovimab is effective against the Omicron variant.
The British pharmaceutical industry company had conducted a trial against key mutations of the new Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant.
Dec 02, 2021, 05:47 PM
According to reports, the 66-year-old infected with Omicron variant is a foreigner who recently visited South Africa, while the 46-year-old is a health worker in Bengaluru. Symptoms of the two patients have been mild, according to the officials.
Dec 02, 2021, 04:39 PM
India reports two cases of Omicron variant
India on Thursday (December 2) reported two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Both have been reported from India's southern Karnataka state. Two males, one 66 and the other 46 have tested positive.
Dec 02, 2021, 02:19 PM
British regulators on Thursday approved a GlaxoSmithKline drug to treat those at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms, with the manufacturer saying it appears effective against the new Omicron variant.
The antibody treatment, sotrovimab, "was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease," said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Preclinical data showed that the drug "retains activity against key mutations of the new Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant," GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said in a statement.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:41 PM
Australia’s New South Wales reports seventh Omicron case
Australia’s tally of people with the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 edged higher on Thursday, prompting state governments to bolster domestic border controls.
The country’s most populous state, New South Wales, reported its seventh case of the variant, a person who arrived on November 23 from Doha, Qatar, and noted that the person had not been in southern Africa.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:23 PM
South Africa's Omicron patients face mostly mild symptoms, doctor says
Doctors say many people who have become ill during South Africa’s rapid increase in Covid-19 cases have mostly mild symptoms.
Most new cases in the country attributed to the Omicron coronavirus variant have been recorded among people aged in their twenties and thirties.
“We’ve seen a sharp increase in cases for the past 10 days. So far they have mostly been very mild cases, with patients having flu-like symptoms: dry coughs, fever, night sweats, a lot of body pains,” said Dr Unben Pillay, a GP in Gauteng province, where 81 per cent of new cases have been reported.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:22 PM
Moderna says it could have Omicron booster shot by March
Vaccine maker Moderna could have a Covid-19 booster shot to tackle the Omicron variant tested and ready to file for US authorisation by March.
Boosters carrying genes specifically to combat mutations in the variant could be the quickest way to address any effect it may have on the potency of vaccines, Moderna president Stephen Hoge said.
"We've already started that programme," he said.
The company is also working on a multivalent vaccine that would include up to four different coronavirus variants, including Omicron.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:13 PM
The heavily mutated Omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly becoming dominant in South Africa, less than four weeks after being identified there, authorities said on Wednesday, as other countries tightened their borders against the new threat.
The United States told airlines to hand over the names of passengers from parts of southern Africa hit by Omicron, which the World Health Organization (WHO) said had now reached at least 24 countries, with cases ranging from mild to severe.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:05 PM
According to The New York Times, President Biden will prolong the mandate that passengers wear masks on flights, trains, and buses, as well as at airports and transit terminals, until mid-March.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:02 PM
The California Department of Public Health and the San Francisco Department of Public Health confirmed the case in a traveller who returned from South Africa on November 22—three days before experts in that nation reported the discovery of the new variety, according to the CDC.
Dec 02, 2021, 12:01 PM
Dec 01, 2021, 09:12 PM
The WHO chief called on countries to take "rational, proportional risk-reduction measures" in the fight against the virus.
"Several WHO advisory groups have met over the last couple of days to evaluate the emerging evidence, and prioritise the studies needed to answer these questions," he said.
"We are learning more all the time about Omicron, but there’s still more to learn about its effect on transmission, severity of disease, and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines"-@DrTedros #COVID19— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) December 1, 2021
Dec 01, 2021, 09:07 PM
"This virus has demonstrated that it will not simply disappear," the WHO chief said, adding,"how many more lives and livelihoods it takes is up to us."
"Globally, we have a toxic mix of low vaccine coverage, & very low testing – a recipe for breeding & amplifying variants. That’s why we continue to urge countries to fully fund the @ACTAccelerator, to ensure equitable access to 💉, tests & therapeutics all over the 🌍"-@DrTedros— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) December 1, 2021
Dec 01, 2021, 09:03 PM
"If countries and individuals don’t do what they need to do to stop transmission of Delta, they won’t stop Omicron either," Tedros said.
"At the same time, we must not forget that we are already dealing with a highly transmissible, dangerous variant – the Delta variant, which currently accounts for almost all cases globally"-@DrTedros #COVID19— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) December 1, 2021
Dec 01, 2021, 08:57 PM
"We are learning more about Omicron variant," says WHO chief.
"Botswana and South Africa did their work best but they have been penalised for the right things. Blanket travel ban won't stop Omicron," Tedros asserted.
Dec 01, 2021, 08:54 PM
WHO and its member state embarked on an an agreement to prevent pandemics. It will provide framework, platform and global health security, WHO chief Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Dec 01, 2021, 08:04 PM
The negative Covid test would be required even if the person is fully vaccinated
Dec 01, 2021, 06:38 PM
The French government said it will start allowing flights from southern Africa to land.
However "drastic" restrictions will be put in place allowing only French and EU residents to disembark, along with diplomats and flight crews.
Dec 01, 2021, 05:24 PM
Two fully vaccinated Israeli doctors get infected with Omicron variant
Both doctors reportedly worked in the same hospital. One of the doctors had visited London.
Reports claimed he had tested negative when he boarded the plane but developed symptoms a few days later.
Dec 01, 2021, 05:19 PM
Nigeria confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant among three passengers who had recently arrived from South Africa.
Dec 01, 2021, 04:50 PM
Omicron chaos: A list of countries that have reported cases of new variant
Ever since the variant has emerged, it has been rapidly spreading across the world. Here is a list of countries which have reported cases of the Omicron variant so far.
Dec 01, 2021, 04:12 PM
India's aviation regulator DGCA decided to postpone the resumption of scheduled international flights from December 15 citing "evolving global scenario" in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Last month, the government had decided to normalise international flight operations from December 15.
India had suspended international flights in March 2020 as the coronavirus epidemic began to spread. Indian authorities had concluded several agreements on "air bubbles" with various countries allowing passengers to fly.
Dec 01, 2021, 03:20 PM
World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Dr Tedros on Tuesday cautioned against blanket measures and knee-jerk reactions over Omicron variant of the Covid virus.
Dec 01, 2021, 03:18 PM
Saudi Arabia confirmed its first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant coming from a north African country, reports said.
Dec 01, 2021, 03:14 PM
The drug maker also said that they would soon be launching a new vaccine for kids who are above two years old.
Dec 01, 2021, 03:12 PM
At least 14 people on flights from Johannesburg and Cape town arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on November 26 carrying the new variant