The United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus are the latest countries to impose travel restrictions for the passengers travelling from South Africa amid the new variant of COVID-19 named ‘Omicron’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the new variant is more infectious than the dominant, highly transmissible Delta strain.
The new variant reached Europe with one confirmed case in Belgium after being found in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.
After many countries announced restrictions on travelers, anxious tourists in Johannesburg rushed to the airport to catch a last flight while many worried the new variant could be more resistant to vaccines.
Markets plunged as news sank in that the new variant could potentially deal a heavy blow to the global recovery.
US President Joe Biden said countries should donate more Covid-19 vaccines and give up intellectual property protections to manufacture more doses worldwide to stem the spread of the virus.
“The news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations,” he said as reported by Times Now.
Scientists are now racing to determine the threat posed by the heavily mutated strain, and whether the current coronavirus vaccines should be adjusted.
EU officials holding an emergency meeting agreed to urge all 27 nations in the bloc to restrict travel from southern Africa, even though many members had already announced flight suspensions.