Countries around the world are closing their borders in an effort to stop the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant. That’s despite World Health Organization advice to keep borders open and focus on testing and tracing.
Japan is the latest country to bring in new restrictions – banning all foreign arrivals starting Tuesday. Morocco has stopped all inbound flights, and Israel has closed its borders for two weeks. Other countries, including the US, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and the European Union have barred entry from southern African countries – or imposed strict quarantine measures and partial lockdowns.
The Netherlands has recorded cases of the Omicron variant. All while the world is still battling the Delta variant.
For example in Germany: With some hospitals at capacity, the German army is transferring COVID-19 patients around the country – to any hospital with a free bed. Now Germany also has confirmed cases of Omicron.
To slow the variant, the world is going back to familiar measures like curfews, travel restrictions – testing and tracing. But one important tool has not been fully utilized: Vaccination.
On the other side of the equator, a similar message: South Africa is calling on its people to get vaccinated. Omicron was first detected in the southern countries of Africa. Little to nothing is known about the new variant, how infectious or dangerous it is.
But since its discovery, flights from that part of the world have been cancelled or delayed. Travel bans have been imposed on several southern African countries. And tourists are struggling to get home.
Those bans are unjustified, say South African leaders.
Manufacturers say they have plans in place to adapt their vaccines, if necessary, but first they need to learn more about the Omicron variant.
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