As Europe braces for a possible outbreak of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, here is a quick visual refresh of where the continent stands in its fight against the coronavirus.
This updated map indicates incidence rates across Europe.
Travellers from South Africa in Netherlands positive for Covid
Dutch health authorities said that 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for Covid-19, Reuters reports.
Authorities are conducting further testing to see if any of the infections are with the recently discovered Omicron coronavirus variant.
Around 600 passengers arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on the two KLM flights on Friday and then faced hours of delays and testing due to concerns over the new virus variant.
The Dutch health ministry said early Saturday 61 tests had come back positive.
“Travellers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol,” health authorities said in a statement. “Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.”
The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge determined that passengers already en route to the Netherlands would have to undergo testing and quarantine upon arrival.
Thailand is now the latest country to ban entry of people travelling from eight African countries it designated as high-risk for the new B 1.1.529 Covid-19 variant, a senior health official said.
Starting in December, travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will be prohibited, the official told a news conference, as reported by Reuters.
Hi everyone, it’s Samantha Lock here, ready to take you through all the new Covid developments this weekend.
It’s been a busy past 24 hours on the Covid front with nations racing to close borders and reimpose restrictions after a new Covid variant was detected last week.
Today, the World Health Organization named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern.
Belgium detected Europe’s first confirmed case of the new variant on Friday as the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and multiple European nations imposed travel bans on south African nations.
Let’s dive right back in with a quick recap of all the key developments you may have missed from the past few hours.
- The US and Canada introduced new travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.
- EU members also agreed to restrict travel from seven African countries.
- The first European case of B.1.1.529 variant has been identified in Belgium.
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said no cases of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant detected in South Africa have so far been identified in the United States to date.
- New York governor Kathy Hochul issued a Covid-19 “disaster emergency” declaration on Friday, citing increasing rates of infections and hospitalisations. An order from the governor said the state was experiencing Covid-19 transmission “not seen since April 2020” and that hospital admissions has been increasing over the past month to over 300 a day.
- The UK reported a further 50,091 Covid cases and 160 deaths.
- India reported its lowest daily Covid case rise in 541 days, according to Union Health Ministry data updated today. The single-day rise of 8,318 new Covid infections and 465 deaths saw active cases decline to 1,07,019 – the lowest seen since March 2020.
- South Korea’s Covid deaths hit record high with new curbs expected. The country reported 4,068 new Covid-19 cases and 52 new deatgs. Critically ill patients hit an all-time high of 634, up 17 from the previous day, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
- India will resume scheduled international flights from 15 December with a limited service to 14 nations, the Civil Aviation Ministry said.
- Australia confirmed it will close its borders to anyone who has been in southern Africa, and is not an Australian citizen. Australian citizens, residents and their dependents arriving from these countries will need to go into immediate supervised quarantine for 14 days.
- Brazil will shut its borders to travellers arriving from six southern African countries, chief of staff to president Jair Bolsonaro said.
- Germany reports an additional 67,125 Covid cases and 303 deaths, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute.
- Germany’s top health officials have raised the prospect of a national lockdown amid rapidly rising coronavirus cases and a dramatic increase in the number of patients in intensive care.
- The Netherlands will be “effectively closed from 5pm to 5am” according to remarks by caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte, announcing new Covid restrictions from Sunday.
- Dozens of people are likely to have tested positive for the virus within the 600 passengers who landed at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands from South Africa on Friday.
- The European Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has classified Omicron, B.1.1.529, a “variant of concern”, warning the risk is “high to very high”.
- Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Morocco have introduced varying bans on travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini according to AFP. Egypt has suspended direct flights to and from South Africa. Iran said it will ban foreign travellers from six countries, including South Africa.
- Canada introduced new border measures and ‘rigorous monitoring’, banning foreign travellers from seven African countries.
- Stocks in the US followed those in Asia and Europe by falling sharply on Friday in the wake of concerns about the new Covid variant.