"Omicron," the latest COVID-19 variant classified as a highly transmissible mutation of concern, is pushing countries to tighten their virus prevention measures.
Shin Ye-eun reports.
The WHO on Friday identified the world's fifth coronavirus variant from South Africa calling it "Omicron."
So far, almost all provinces in South Africa have confirmed new Omicron infections.
What's more concerning is that the variant has rapidly spread across the world.
That's why many countries have frantically been re-imposing travel bans and toughening virus prevention measures.
Including South Korea.
From Sunday, South Korea has restricted visa issuance and arrivals from eight African nations - South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
No cases of Omicron have been identified in the US to date, but health experts have been taking precautionary measures.
The United States has decided to ban entry to most travelers, except its citizens and lawful permanent residents.
They plan to start the new restrictions from Monday.
The state of New York has taken further steps and declared a state of emergency so that it can prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 resulting from this variant.
Under the state of emergency set to kick off from December 3rd hospitals will only take in critically ill patients if they are running low on hospital beds.
Israel also said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country and introduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.
As of now, only 1 person in the country has been infected, while 7 have shown related symptoms.
The UK has not forbidden international travel but has strengthened travel measures.
After detecting two cases of Omicron, the Prime Minister on Saturday said all travelers to Britain must take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and quarantine until a negative result is produced.
The Prime Minister also asked everyone to wear masks indoors and on public transport.
As of now, exact information on how transmissible this variant is has not been revealed.
But scientists have precautioned that this variant could be more infectious and less susceptible to vaccines.
Shin Ye-eun, Arirang News.