Countries impose new travel restrictions as 'Omicron' variant emerges
Updated: 2021-11-29 17:15:30 KST
A new variant of concern has emerged.
South Africa first sounded the alarm on this new strain to the WHO on November 24th.
But the earliest cases were actually detected in Botswana weeks ago.
Already, the virus has spread to at least 13 countries, including the UK, 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 sealed off its borders to all foreign nationals for two weeks.
Japan is also banning entry for all foreign travelers including ones from South Korea after detecting its first suspected case of Omicron from someone arriving from Namibia.
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.
But South Korea on Monday made it clear that it was not going to completely seal off borders to all foreign travelers.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News