New variant of Covid-19 Omicron spreads and the world isolates southern Africa

USA, Brazil and countries from all regions of the world announced on Friday the closure of their borders to travelers from the south of Africa, after the detection of a new variant of Covid-19 potentially very contagious called Omicron.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that strain B.1.1.529 of the coronavirus, which he named Omicron, is a “worrying” variant like the currently dominant Delta and those previously detected Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

The new mutation, first reported by South Africa on November 24, he already identified himself in Europe, with a confirmed case on Friday in Belgium, after being reported in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong e Israel.

From equities to oil, world markets tumbled on the news about Omicron, in the face of fears of a severe blow to the global economic recovery.

The American President, Joe Biden, stated that the new variant should encourage the rest of the world to donate more vaccines to the poorest nations, noting that USA “He has already donated more vaccines to other countries than all other countries combined” and “it is time” to match his “generosity.”

“This pandemic It will not end until we have a vaccination globally, “he warned in a statement from Nantucket, where he spends his vacation Thanksgiving.

Biden He also called on countries to waive intellectual property protections to allow the manufacture of vaccines around the world.

“Panic reaction”

Belgium announced on Friday the first publicly known case of Omicron in Europe: an unvaccinated person who returned on 11 November Egypt through Turkey.

The WHO said it could take several weeks to determine whether the new variant involves changes in the transmissibility or severity of the Covid-19, as well as the effectiveness of vaccines, tests and treatments of the Covid-19, and cautioned against imposing travel restrictions while scientific evidence is scant.

But many countries have already announced the closure of borders, generally for travelers arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Esuatini (or Swaziland), Mozambique and Malawi.

In the Americas, USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Guatemala they were the last to restrict travel from there.

The European Union (EU) He also recommended that the 27 nations of the bloc prevent the entry of people from the south of Africa, beyond many members, such as Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Holland, they had already announced flight suspensions.

The first country to shield itself was United Kingdom, and others followed in his footsteps, including Russia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus. What’s more, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco they announced bans.

Japan said it will require a 10-day quarantine period for travelers from southern Africa.

South Africa he called the bans “draconian”. “That kind of reaction is instinctive and panicky,” said Health Minister Joe Phaahla.

It is a hard blow for the country since the restrictive measures arrive just before the austral summer, when safaris and beaches tend to attract a good number of visitors.

“Red Friday”

Omicron it caused the Wall Street crash on Friday. The benchmark Dow Jones had its worst loss of the year: a 2.53% drop since the close of Wednesday, before the Thanksgiving holiday. The S&P 500 fell 2.27%, while the index Nasdaq it was down 2.23%.

The European indices suffered their worst sessions in more than a year: Paris fell 4.75%, London 3,64%, Frankfurt 4.15% and Madrid 4.96 percent.

The fall also affected Asian and Latin American stock markets, and oil prices, which lost more than 10%.

On Chicago, the prices of wheat and soybeans fell significantly.

“Today is Black Friday for retail sales, but now is” Red Friday “for the stock market,” summarized analyst Patrick O “Hare, alluding to the traditional discount day in the United States after Thanksgiving.

The German biotechnology firm BioNTech and the American pharmaceutical Pfizer reported they were studying the new variant, with impact data expected “in two weeks at the latest” to say whether their jointly developed vaccine should be adjusted if omicron spreads globally.

The American Laboratory Modern announced for its part that it will develop a specific reinforcement for omicron.

The coronavirus has left more than 5.18 million deaths worldwide since its appearance in China at the end of 2019, although the WHO estimates that the actual figures could be much higher.

About 54% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the anticovid vaccine, but in low-income countries, this proportion is only 5.6%, according to the Our World in Data portal.


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