UK, Germany, Italy detect new Omicron cases; Israel closes borders

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UK, Germany, Italy detect new Omicron cases; Israel closes borders (Image: Pixabay)
UK, Germany, Italy detect new Omicron cases; Israel closes borders (Image: Pixabay)

New Delhi : Britain, Germany and Italy have detected new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced new steps to stop the spread of the contagious virus in the nation and many other countries have imposed travel restrictions on flights coming from southern Africa.

A global concern erupted soon after the discovery of the variant with share markets going down over concern that the economic growth will once again be impacted due to Omicron.

Meanwhile, Israel has banned the entry of all foreigners into the country and reintroduced counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.

British health minister Sajid Javid said that the two found cases in Britain have a travel history to southern Africa. 

Johnson laid out measures that included stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country but that stopped short of curbs on social activity other than requiring mask-wearing in some settings.

“We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result,” Johnson told a news conference.

Those people who had come in contact with the Omicron positive suspect will have to self isolate themselves for at least 10 days. Wearing of masks has been made compulsory, said Johnson.

The health ministry in the German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant.

The two people entered Germany at Munich airport on Nov. 24, before Germany designated South Africa as a virus-variant area, and were now isolating, said the ministry, indicating without stating explicitly that the people had travelled from South Africa.

In Italy, the National Health Institute said a case of the new variant had been detected in Milan in a person coming from Mozambique.

World Health Organization on Saturday called Omicron a "variant of concern" as it can spread more easily than the known variants of coronavirus, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.