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Coronavirus Live | Countries suspend flights with South Africa over COVID-19 concerns

On November 26, the World Health Organization declared the recently discovered B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19, first detected in southern Africa, to be a variant of concern and renamed it Omicron. The classification places Omicron in the most disturbing category of COVID-19 variants, as well as the globally dominant Delta, as well as its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

With a new variant of the coronavirus detected in South Africa, scientists and health experts in India have said that new waves of infection are expected and that if we do not act quickly and effectively, the country may experience be repeated waves. India now has better tools than two years ago, said Vinod Scaria, a scientist at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB). He added, however, that the country needed to improve its vaccination campaign, public health measures, health infrastructure and genomic surveillance to be better prepared.

Explain | What is the new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa?

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths, and testing rates at the national and state levels here. A list of state helpline numbers is also available.

Here are the latest developments:


Australia begins 14-day quarantine for citizens from southern Africa

Australia will introduce a 14-day quarantine for citizens and their dependents traveling from nine southern African countries due to the new variant of the coronavirus, its health minister said on Saturday.

“Anyone who is not an Australian citizen or their dependents, and who has been in African countries where the Omicron variant has been detected and spread in the past 14 days will not be able to enter Australia,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt to the press. Report. -Reuters


Merck’s COVID-19 pill shows lower effectiveness in updated data

Merck & Co said on Friday that updated data from its study of its experimental COVID-19 pill showed the drug to be less effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths than previously reported.

The drugmaker said its pill has shown a 30% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths, based on data from more than 1,400 patients. As of October, its data showed about 50% effectiveness, based on data from 775 patients. -Reuters


Countries suspend flights with South Africa over COVID-19 concerns

US President Joe Biden will limit travel to the United States from eight southern African countries starting Monday due to concerns over a new variant of COVID-19 found in South Africa, a senior official said on Friday. administration.

Saudi Arabia has suspended flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini over concerns over the spread of COVID- 19, the State News Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

Morocco has banned entry to travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe over concerns over the spread of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus discovered in South Africa, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Cyprus announced on Friday that it was banning arrivals from a number of African states, including South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, following the detection of a new variant of COVID-19.

European Union states have agreed to temporarily suspend travel to southern Africa after a new variant of COVID-19 is detected, the EU presidency announced on Friday.

The Swiss government on Friday banned direct flights from South Africa and the surrounding region due to the detection of a new variant of COVID-19, while also imposing restrictions on travel from other countries , including Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

Turkey has closed its borders to passengers from five countries as a measure against the new variant of the coronavirus, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday.

The UAE has suspended entry for travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique from November 29 over concerns over a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, the state news agency reported on Friday. .

Canada is closing its borders to citizens of seven southern African countries to help stop the spread of a newly identified variant of COVID-19, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters on Friday.

Iran has banned the entry of travelers from South Africa and five neighboring countries after the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus in the region, a senior Iranian epidemiology official said on Friday.

Egypt is suspending direct flights to and from South Africa over concerns over a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, the State News Agency (MENA) reported on Friday.

Brazil will ban arrivals from six southern African countries due to the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the government said in a statement Friday evening. -Reuters

Tamil Nadu

Students traveling to Europe and Southeast Asia face obstacles

As the COVID-19 vaccine administered in India is not recognized in some countries, students admitted to these countries are going through a difficult time.

A student accepted for a program in Austria learned to his dismay that although he can enter that country, he cannot use the Indian certificate for the Covishield vaccine to visit restaurants and gyms.


Novavax tests vaccine that targets new variant of COVID-19

Novavax Inc said on Friday it had started work on a version of its COVID-19 vaccine to target the variant detected in South Africa and that the vaccine would be ready for testing and manufacture in the coming weeks.

The company’s COVID-19 shot contains an actual version of the virus’s spike protein that cannot cause disease but can trigger the immune system. The vaccine developer said he has started to develop a spike protein specifically based on the known genetic sequence of the variant, B.1.1.529. -Reuters

South Africa

South African Minister of Health considers travel bans “unjustified”

South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday that preliminary studies suggest a new variant of COVID-19 detected in his country may be more transmissible, but the decision of other countries to impose restrictions travel is “unjustified”. -Reuters


Ireland extends COVID-19 booster shots to all adults

Ireland, one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, will make COVID-19 booster vaccines available to all adults as part of a strong intensification of plans to provide additional protection, said on Friday the Minister of Health.

Almost 90% of the 3.9 million eligible people over the age of 12 in Ireland have been fully vaccinated and booster injections had already been approved for people over 50 and for those with under-health conditions. underlying. -Reuters


FIH Junior Women’s World Cup in South Africa suspended due to COVID-19

The upcoming FIH Junior Girls’ World Cup in South Africa was suspended on Saturday because a new variant of COVID-19 in the country stoked fears around the world.

The prestigious tournament was scheduled to take place in the Rainbow Nation from December 5-16.

However, following the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the South African Hockey Association and the University of the Northwest of Potchefstroom have jointly decided that the tournament “will not take place under these circumstances”. -PTI

India exported vaccines to 95 countries

India has delivered around 70.70 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 95 countries until Nov. 22 and of these, 12.7 million doses have been administered to 47 countries by the government, said on Friday. Union Minister Jitendra Singh. He said the remaining 58 million was provided by the Serum Institute of India as part of its trade and COVAX obligations.

International flights will resume from December 15

Regular international flights to and from India will resume from December 15 after a 20-month suspension induced by the coronavirus, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Friday. However, countries deemed “at risk” of COVID-19 by the health ministry will only be allowed to operate a certain percentage of their scheduled pre-COVID flights, the aviation ministry said.

Read | Covishield was 63% efficient against the Delta variant in the second wave

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