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S. Korea on high alert as suspected Omicron variant detected Updated: 2021-12-01 17:02:02 KST

South Korea is high on alert, having had its first 'suspected' cases of the omicron variant.
Confirmation of those cases either way could come as soon as tonight.
Our Kim Cheong-ah has more.
The spread of the omicron variant across the globe has put South Korea on high alert, especially with the first suspected cases of the variant detected in the country yesterday.
The results of genome sequencing tests on the suspected cases are expected to come out as early as tonight.

According to the government, the four people possibly infected with the omicron variant are not showing significant symptoms at the moment, but in the meantime health authorities are known to be tracking and testing those who may have come into contact with them.
The authorities have said it's hard to rule out the possibility that omicron has reached Korea already, but that they will do everything they can to stop it.

"It's still important to prevent [the variant] from coming in from overseas, so we plan to quickly take steps to strengthen measures on quarantine and overseas entry."

Omicron cases have been found on all six continents in just a week since South Africa first reported the new variant to the WHO on November 24th.
It's been detected in more than 20 countries, including ten countries in Europe, as well as Hong Kong, Israel and Japan.

What's more, it turns out that the Netherlands has found an omicron case among samples taken before the variant was reported by South Africa.
There have been similar findings in Germany and Belgium.
In Germany, a man who had not been abroad recently tested positive for omicron, which would appear to indicate that it's spreading locally already.

The WHO, however, urged against closing borders, saying that this will not prevent the spread of the omicron variant and will instead have negative effects on global health initiatives, especially by discouraging countries from reporting virus findings transparently.
In response to the variant, border restrictions of one kind or another have been implemented by more than 70 countries.
Kim Cheong-ah, Arirang News.
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