New Covid-19 Variant Detected In Southern Africa Named Omicron

The new B11529 Covid-19 variant that first emerged in southern Africa has fast become a concern for countries around the world, with many already halting travel from the region.

S’pore Tightens Border Restrictions For 7 African Countries, Cites New Covid-19 Variant Concerns

On Friday (26 Nov), the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the new strain Omicron and declared it as a “variant of concern”.

New Covid-19 strain designated as a variant of concern on 26 Nov

The naming and designation come just days after the variant was reported to WHO on Wednesday (24 Nov).

However, preliminary evidence about the new strain suggests “an increased risk of reinfection” compared to other variants of concern.

Furthermore, more people across all provinces of South Africa were getting infected with the variant.

On Friday (26 Nov), WHO named the new strain Omicron and designated it as a variant of concern.

Prior to the addition, there were 4 other Covid-19 variants of concerns:

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma
  • Delta

Meanwhile, WHO says “current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics” are still able to detect the variant.

S’pore bans travellers from 7 African countries

Soon after news broke about the new variant, the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore said travellers from 7 African countries will not be allowed to enter or transit through the republic.

These countries are:

  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

The measures will take effect from 11.59pm on Saturday (27 Nov) and also applies to travellers who have previously obtained approval to enter Singapore.

Thankfully, the new strain hasn’t been detected here in Singapore.

Singapore isn’t the only country to have introduced measures. Other countries such as India, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates had also introduced tougher measures in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

WHO, however, cautioned against travel measures, urging countries to take on a risk-based and scientific approach, reports The Straits Times.

Hope governments will prepare for the new variant

The emergence of the new and possibly more infectious Omicron variant is certainly worrying.

We hope the prompt detection of the virus will give governments around the world more time to prepare for the virus, when and if it arrives on their shores.

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Featured image adapted from International Monetary Fund on Flickr