Countries scramble to impose new travel restrictions as new variant 'Omicron' emerges
Updated: 2021-11-29 09:45:12 KST
A new variant of concern has emerged.
South Africa first sounded the alarm on this new strain to the WHO on November 24th.
And already, at least 13 countries have detected the strain within their borders, including Botswana, Britain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia and Israel.
The strain has also landed in North America, with Canada detecting its first two cases on Sunday local time.
There's still so much unknown about this variant.
Some experts say it could be more evasive to vaccine protection and more transmissible than other strains.
Doctors in South Africa, though, have reported very mild symptoms among their Omicron patients.
Most suffered from fatigue and muscle pain that lasted for a few days, while none as of yet have reported some of the other COVID-19 symptoms like a loss of smell or taste.
"Currently there's no reason for panicking as we don't see severely ill patients But the hype that's been created currently out there in the media and worldwide doesn't correlate with the clinical picture."
Many countries are scrambling to update prevention guidelines to counter this new threat.
Israel enforced one of its toughest measures yet sealing off its borders to all foreign nationals for two weeks.
The European Union has restricted entry from seven countries in Southern Africa, while South Korea and the U.S. have targeted travel restrictions for eight countries in the region.
There are also concerns that South Korea's current domestic PCR tests are not effective at detecting the Omicron variant.
The travel restrictions aim to slow its arrival in the country.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News