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Omicron ravages across continents and countries are quick to seal off borders Updated: 2021-11-30 05:56:45 KST

The new variant of COVID-19 continues to rampage across continents around the world.
More cases have been detected in Europe, and nations there and elsewhere are quickly sealing up their borders in an attempt to curtail the spread of the new strain.

For more, we have our COVID-19 correspondent Kim Yeon-seung in the studio with us, welcome Yeon-seung.

Good morning, Mok-yeon.

Now start us off, what's the latest with Omicron?

Right, Spain's capital, Madrid, also confirmed their 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 stopped over in Amsterdam.
Portuguese authorities had also confirmed an Omicron cluster coming from a professional soccer club in the country.
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.
Many other countries, Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia also confirmed Omicron cases within their borders.
There's a suspected community infection in Scotland, where none of the infected patients have recent history of traveling.
So officials there are now left to figure out how widespread the virus already is within their local population.

And what kind of response is this triggering in those nations?

Well first, the G7 nations are convening in order to discuss an emergency response.
Also,.. many countries have been sealing off borders to countries in Southern Africa, where the virus strain had first been spotted.
Others have been quickly following suit, hoping to delay the arrival of the virus on their shores.
Japan, for example, recently banned incoming foreign travel including from South Korea after finding their first suspected case of Omicron in a passenger traveling from Namibia.
South Korea had made clear that it wasn't going to close down borders to all foreign travelers, but had imposed travel restrictions to eight countries in Southern Africa.

But there has been a lot of controversy surrounding these decisions, hasn't there?

Yes exactly, countries on the receiving end of these travel restrictions are not too happy about the measures.
Because South Africa was the first to report the virus to the WHO,.. they're bearing the brunt of the impact on their economic and tourism sectors.
Some experts say these travel bans do more harm than good, because it ultimately discourages countries to report new strains if others happen to emerge in the future.

"Now these restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our southern African sister countries."

"South Africa and Botswana should be thanked for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalised."

Also vaccination access has been poor in many African countries, with vaccine distribution being heavily skewed towards wealthy, developed countries.
Officials and experts say that the world is now seeing the effects of vaccine hoarding with the emergence of Omicron, and it's the countries in Africa that are being penalized.

Let's wrap up with an update on the COVID-19 situation in South Korea.

South Korean authorities had logged up to 2,641 new infections by Monday 9PM, so it seems like Tuesday's official tally will round up somewhere above 3-thousand.
Health authorities are also trying to speed up the introduction of oral COVID-19 treatments,.. especially ones produced domestically.
But more on South Korea's response to the latest COVID-19 situation will come for those who continue to tune in to our morning newscast.

As always thank you for that report Yeonsung, we'll see you back here tomorrow.
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