British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the detection of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant in Britain's Brentwood and Nottingham areas on Saturday along with a slew of measures to hopefully curtail further spread of the virus. The two linked cases of Omicron detected in Britain were connected to travel to southern Africa, British health minister Sajid Javid said.
"We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result," Johnson told a news conference. Compulsory mask wearing in public transport and shops was emphasised although Prime Minister Johnson stopped short of any real curbs on social activity and movement.
75% of Britain's population has received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine which had raised hopes of the country hopefully eliminating further spikes in infection. With the arrival of the Omicron variant, Britain is now seeking to expand booster vaccination eligibility to those under 40 years of age in a bid to keep antibody resistance high.
The health ministry in the German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant. The two people entered Germany at Munich airport on Nov. 24, before Germany designated South Africa as a virus-variant area, and were now isolating, said the ministry, indicating without stating explicitly that the people had travelled from South Africa.
Italy and the Czech republic are also checking travellers from southern Africa who are suspected to be carrying the variant. Passengers from southern Africa at Dutch airports were forced to wait in long queues to get tested and sent to quarantine. 61 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