OMICRON CONTINUES to make international headlines AND for more on this reality I have Kim YEON-SEUNG here in the studio.
Good to see you again, Sunny.
I hear more countries have reported cases of OMICRON?
Right. Spain's capital Madrid, also confirmed its first case of Omicron.
The person infected with the mutant strain was a man in his 50s who had recently traveled to South Africa and had a layover in Amsterdam.
Portuguese authorities also confirmed an Omicron cluster linked to a professional soccer club in the country.
13 players and staff were found to be infected by the new variant.
One of the players had traveled to South Africa recently as well, so it's possible he had unknowingly brought in and transmitted the virus to his teammates.
Sweden also identified its first case, joining a growing list of countries including Denmark, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia with confirmed Omicron cases.
There's a suspected community infection in Scotland, where none of the patients have a recent travel history.
So officials there are now left to figure out how wide the virus may have already spread among the local population.
Has there been any more information about this new variant?
Many experts and officials are saying that for now, the virus seems to be displaying very high transmissibility, but since there's still so much we don't know about the variant, there's no need to panic.
First listen to what top officials around the world had to say.
"This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."
"There is no basis for South Africans to panic. We've been here before."
"We've seen some very early evidence that we may be seeing a re-infection occurring we'll only get the full picture in about three to four weeks from now. But at this point, we aren't seeing any red flags that we need to be particularly concerned about."
The South African government advisor did add though, that due to the rapid rate of infections, he expects cases to reach 10-thousand a day in South Africa by the end of this week.
So what are some of the latest actions being taken by the international community in light of OMICRON?
Well first, the G7 nations are holding an emergency meeting to coordinate their response.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is saying that all vaccinated adults should get booster shots because of this new variant.
Also, the European Union, some nations in South America, the U.S., and South Korea have been sealing off borders to countries in Southern Africa, where the variant was first reported.
Others have been quickly following suit, with some taking more drastic measures.
Japan, Morocco, and Israel have banned the entry of ALL foreign arrivals to keep the virus outside their borders.
These travel restrictions however, have come under fire from a number of global bodies. Let's take a listen to this UN official.
"The Secretary-General said he is now deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID-19 travel restrictions. As he and others have long warned, low vaccine rates are a breeding ground for variants."
He said that countries in Africa should not be penalized for reporting this new variant and sending an early warning to the rest of the world.
And what about authorities here on the local front?
South Korea had made clear that it wasn't going to shut down its borders to all foreign travelers, but did impose travel bans on eight countries in Southern Africa.
This includes Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
333 travelers from these countries had entered Korea in a four-week period this month, but none had shown signs of COVID-19 infections.
Currently, there are no suspected or confirmed cases here in the country as well.
Thank you Yeon-sung for now but do stay for the broader talks.