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Omicron Cases Detected In Netherlands, Denmark, Australia

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

The Omicron Coronavirus variant kept spreading around the world on Sunday, with 13 cases found in the Netherlands and two each in Denmark and Australia even as more countries imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off. Dutch health authorities said the 13 cases of the variant were found among people on two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday. Authorities had tested all of the more than 600 passengers on those two flights and had found 61 coronavirus cases, going on to test those for the new variant. “It is not unlikely more cases will appear in the Netherlands,” health minister Hugo de Jonge told a news conference in Rotterdam. “This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg.”

The discovery of Omicron, dubbed a 'variant of concern' last week by the WHO, has caused worry around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year Covid-19 pandemic. First discovered in South Africa, it has now been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong.

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains. Many countries have imposed travel bans or curbs on southern Africa to try to stem the spread. Financial markets dived on Friday as investors worried that the variant could stall a global recovery. Oil prices tumbled by about $10 a barrel. Most Gulf stock markets ended lower on Sunday, with the Saudi and Dubai indexes suffering their biggest single-day fall in nearly two years.

In new cases detected on Sunday, Denmark said it had registered two cases in travellers from South Africa, while officials in Australia said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa had tested positive for the variant. Austria was investigating a suspected case and in France, health minister Olivier Veran said the variant was probably already circulating there.

In Britain, where two linked cases of Omicron identified on Saturday were connected to travel to southern Africa, the government announced measures to try to contain the spread, including stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country and requiring mask wearing in some settings. British health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday he expected to receive advice imminently on whether the government can broaden a programme of providing booster shots to fully vaccinated people, to try to weaken the impact.

(Reuters)



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