COVID-19

Live: First confirmed Omicron variant case in the US

The Omicron variant of Covid-19, first detected in South Africa, continues to cause concern in the international community. In Europe, progress has been made in delivering vaccine doses to children. The United States announces that it will tighten its entry conditions to the territory and Japan suspends all new air reservations to the country for one month.

Officially reported in South Africa on November 24, this new highly contagious variant would have started to spread around the world several days earlier. Dutch health authorities announced on Tuesday that Omicron was already circulating in the Netherlands on November 19. From Africa to the Pacific, from Canada to Italy, passing through Germany and the United Kingdom, the new variant of Covid-19 has already had time to go around the world.

Many countries have already taken restrictive measures to stop the spread of Omicron. While scientific research continues to learn more about the dangerousness of the variant and its possible resistance to current vaccines, the WHO continues to call for borders not to be closed.

  • 7:50 pm.: First case of the variant confirmed in the United States

A first case of the Omicron variant was confirmed in the United States in an individual returning from South Africa, US health authorities announced.

This person tested positive in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement. This individual was “fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that were improving,” they added.

  • 7:30 pm: Border closures are “unfair, punitive and ineffective for Guterres

Compared to the Omicron variant, the border closures are “deeply unfair, punitive and ineffective,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, calling for more evidence for travelers.

“With a truly borderless virus, the travel restrictions that isolate a country or a region are not only deeply unjust and punitive, they are ineffective,” he said during a press conference, denouncing the “scandal” of a conviction of Africa for not being sufficiently vaccinated.

  • 6:40 pm Denmark introduces mandatory test for travelers from Doha and Dubai

Danish health authorities have decided to introduce a mandatory test for travelers from Doha and Dubai, following the detection in Denmark of a case of the new Omicron variant in a traveler returning from Qatar.

The country is facing a strong rebound in Covid cases. Denmark recorded a record number of new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, with 5,120 contaminations in the last 24 hours. The previous record dates back to December 18, 2020 with 4,508 contaminations. 86.7% of Danes over 12 years of age are vaccinated.

  • 4:50 pm: WHO warns against a “toxic cocktail” of deficiencies of those vaccinated and tested

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned the world at a press conference on Wednesday about the risks of vaccination coverage and an insufficient level of detection. According to him, this scenario is the most conducive to the appearance of new variants. “The end of the pandemic is not a matter of luck, it is a matter of choice,” he said.

  • 3:20 pm: France tightens the conditions of access to its territory

Faced with the threat of the Omicron variant, France announces a tightening of the conditions for access to its territory, imposing in particular a negative test on all travelers, including vaccinated ones, coming from a country outside the European Union.

Travelers from South Africa (French, EU citizens, diplomats and seafarers only) will undergo a Covid test upon arrival in France, followed by isolation for seven days in case of a negative result and ten days if the result is positive.

In both cases, the isolation “will be monitored by internal security forces, and in the event of non-compliance with isolation, a fine of 1,000 to 1,500 euros will be imposed,” says Gabriel Attal, a government spokesman.

South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini are concerned. Three other countries are added to this list: Malawi, Zambia, and Mauritius.

These ten countries are part of a new category called “scarlet scoundrel.” For these countries, “there will be no authorized travel or access for professional, tourist, family, study and even research purposes,” said Gabriel Attal.

  • 3 pm: Germany fears a peak of infections in mid-December

Andreas Schuppert, a medical forecaster for the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), says Germany is expected to peak in its fourth wave in mid-December. This peak could translate into 6,000 beds occupied in intensive care units.

  • 2:25 pm: First cases of the Omicron variant in Ghana and Nigeria

After southern Africa, the new Omicron variant is now confirmed in other parts of the continent. The Nigerian Center for Disease Control confirmed on Wednesday that two travelers, who arrived from South Africa last week, are positive. Ghana indicates that it has also detected the variant on its territory.

  • 2:10 pm: Flights between France and South Africa will resume on Saturday with “drastic” supervision

Gabriel Attal, spokesman for the French government, announces that flights with ten countries in southern Africa will resume from Saturday with a “drastic” framework that will only allow French, EU citizens, diplomats and sailors to travel.

These travelers will also undergo a Covid test upon arrival in France, followed by isolation for seven days in the event of a negative result and ten days if the result is positive. In addition, all travelers from a country outside the European Union, even vaccinated, must present a negative test within 48 hours.

  • 1:00 p.m.: Vaccine for children available in the EU on December 13

Production of Pfizer / BioNTech’s children’s version of the Covid vaccine will increase and doses will be available in the EU on December 13, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. This Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children from 5 to 11 years old was brought forward a week.

  • 11 a.m.: a first case of the Omicron variant in the Gulf

A first confirmed case of Omicron has been detected in Saudi Arabia, in a Saudi national returning from a North African country. The infected person and those they came into contact with have been isolated, according to a Health Ministry official.

  • 10:00 am: South Africa “serene” before a new wave

With 4,300 new cases of Covid-19 patients per day, but only 15 cases of the Omicron variant confirmed in the Cape Province, South Africa is “serene” in the face of the emergence of a new wave of coronavirus. “The number of hospitalizations is increasing, but little by little at the moment,” underlines Caroline Dumay, France 24 correspondent in Cape Town.


  • 9 a.m.: Three Omicron Variant Cases Detected in Nigeria

Analyzes have confirmed the presence of three cases of the Omicron variant in the most populous country in Africa. The three people who tested positive had arrived in the country last week and “had previously traveled to South Africa,” the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said. Travelers were asked to undergo tests two days after arrival.

  • 8:20 am: Suspension of air reservations to Japan

Japan has asked airlines to suspend all new bookings to its territory from December 1, for a period of one month, amid fears about the Omicron variant, the Japanese Ministry of Transportation said. Existing reservations are not affected.

The new restrictions come when a second case of the Omicron variant was confirmed in the Archipelago on Wednesday. The Japanese government said it was a traveler who arrived from Peru last week.

Japan had already announced on Monday the closure of its borders to all foreign visitors.

  • 8 am: France extends suspension of flights from 7 African countries

Flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi remain suspended to France. Paris announced an extension of this suspension until Saturday to address the risk of an acceleration in the spread of the Omicron variant.

“An extremely reinforced protocol” is being studied with European partners, said the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune. “We will certainly go even further to require testing, even for people who have been vaccinated,” he said.

  • 6:30 am: US will toughen entry requirements

The United States will require all travelers who enter its territory by air to present a negative test for Covid-19 carried out 24 hours before their departure, due to fears raised by the new variant of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Control and the US Disease Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday night.

Currently, international travelers who have been vaccinated can have a negative coronavirus test performed within three days of departure. This new measure would apply to both US citizens and foreigners.

The administration is also considering requiring travelers to take another drug test within three to five days of arriving in the United States, authorities said. The new rules could be announced on Thursday, but it was not specified when they could go into effect.

With AFP

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