The world is shielded against the omicron variant

  • Japan joins Israel and Morocco in vetoing all foreigners from entering the country

  • Australia postpones partial reopening to foreign workers and students from December 1 to 15

Fear of omicron, the new variant of the coronavirus cataloged as “worrying“by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is spreading across the planet and prompting some governments to to close again his borders with the intention of avoiding new outbreaks and truncating the fragile economic recovery.

In total, more than 30 countries have imposed some type of travel restriction. Japan has joined this Monday to Israel and Morocco and it has banned all foreigners from entering the country. Australia has decided to postpone until December 15 the partial reopening scheduled for this Wednesday. Too Saudi Arabia, Oman, Thailand, Philippines and Sri Lanka have communicated in the last hours vetoes to arrivals from several African countries, with South Africa to the head. Measures already adopted at the end of last week by the countries of the European Union, USA and Canada.

Brake to the Asian opening

The omicron variant has slowed the opening trend in Asia and returned the priority to protect the fort. Some recent measures that suggested the exit of the tunnel have been canceled or are under study due to the threat of the latest variant detected in Africa and which reveals the fragility of the global recovery, reports Adrián Foncillas.

Japan has opted this Monday for preventive shielding. “This is an extraordinary measure while we investigate more about the omicron variant,” the prime minister justified this morning. Fumio Kishida. The Japanese country had just announced that this Tuesday it will lower the blind again to foreigners, including students and businessmen. The entry ban had been extended for more than a year and deprived of foreign public to the Tokyo Olympics. It was finally lifted at the beginning of the month and has returned just three weeks later. The regulation approved this morning does not affect nationals or foreigners who already had residence, but it does provide for two-week quarantines in facilities managed by the Government if they arrive from 14 countries where the new variant has been detected. It is unknown if it has already reached Japan. The authorities have reported a positive for covid in a traveler from Namibia but it will take two more days for the laboratory to identify the variant. Kishida asked for calm, remembering that the country, with 76.5% of the inoculated population, has done its vaccination duties.

The variant has also ruined the Philippine plans. The Southeast Asian country had announced last week that tourists vaccinated could enter from next month. It barely has a third of the population vaccinated, but the fall in daily infections to their lowest level of the year advised some flexibility in a dire economic situation. Over the weekend, however, he repealed the measure and added seven European countries to the list of Africans with whom he had suspended flights. The border closure, ordered in March 2020, has reduced the eight million annual tourists to just over a million and emptied the paradisiacal white sand beaches that Manila relies on to balance the accounts.

Braking in South Korea and Australia

South Korea it has slowed down the de-escalation and announced measures for next month. The expansion of the number of intensive care beds and the acceleration of the third dose are contemplated. Reducing the number of people allowed in meetings is also being studied. Its president, Moon Jae-in, has ruled out the return of the toughest restrictions “because the country could not go back to the past.”

The Australian authorities have decided to postpone the opening of borders to foreign workers and students after the fourth positive detected this Monday of the omicron variant after the two of the weekend. It was scheduled to go into effect on Wednesday but has been delayed to December 15. The strict measures agreed in Australia during the pandemic explain its success, with less than 2,000 deaths, but the high vaccination rate justified the swerve. Sydney and Melbourne, the main cities, have exempted vaccinated visitors from quarantine since the beginning of the month. Morrison has not clarified this morning if the new variant will return the quarantines. “There is no evidence yet that it causes a more serious disease. In fact, they suggest that it is a milder form, especially for those already vaccinated,” he said on television.

G-7 meeting

Given the advance of the new variant, the Ministers of Health of the G-7 (United Kingdom, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, in addition to the EU as a guest) have convened a emergency meeting for this Monday to analyze the strategies to follow.

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“We know that we are in a race against time,” said the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, before stating that vaccine manufacturers need two to three weeks “to have a complete picture of the quality of the mutations.”

The blockade imposed on flights from southern African countries has provoked a reaction from some of these states. The president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, haususado a los países occidentales de “aprophobia“. In turn, the WHO chief in Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has urged to follow science rather than veto flights. “With the omicron variant detected in various regions of the world, applying travel restrictions to Africa is an attack on global solidarity,” he added. The day before, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, demanded the “immediate and urgent lifting” of the measures, considering that they have no “scientific justification” and that it is “unfair discrimination”. “The only thing the ban will do is further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond and recover from the pandemic,” he added.

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