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Britain reports variant cases as travel curbs spread

2021-11-28 HKT 00:52
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  • Britain reports variant cases as travel curbs spread
Britain detected two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, even as Australia and other countries joined nations imposing restrictions on travel from southern Africa in an effort to stop its spread.

Authorities in Germany and the Czech Republic also said they had suspected cases.

The discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans or curbs and a sell-off on financial markets on Friday as investors worried that Omicron could stall a global recovery from the nearly two-year pandemic.

Omicron, dubbed a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organisation, is potentially more contagious than previous variants of the disease, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe Covid-19 compared to other strains.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa and had also since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and at a quarantine hotel in Hong Kong.

Dutch authorities said that 61 out of around 600 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday had tested positive for the coronavirus. Health authorities were carrying out further tests to see if those cases involved the new variant.

One passenger who arrived from South Africa on Friday, Dutch photographer Paula Zimmerman, said she tested negative but was anxious for the days to come, having spent hours on a flight that likely had many infected passengers.

"I’ve been told that they expect that a lot more people will test positive after five days. It's a little scary the idea that you’ve been in a plane with a lot of people who tested positive," she said.