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Omicron reaches from Australia to Canada in widening spread

Most infections stem from travelers carrying the disease across borders

Coronavirus | Coronavirus Tests | Coronavirus Vaccine


Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has been detected in locations from Australia to Germany and Canada, showing the difficulties of curtailing new strains.

Most infections stem from travelers carrying the disease across borders. Israel, for instance, said a confirmed case who arrived from Malawi rode on a bus from Tel Aviv. Italy’s first case traveled around the country for days before testing positive.

Researchers worldwide are racing to understand the full impact of the new strain, and governments have banned travelers from South Africa and nearby countries on concerns omicron could evade the protection of vaccines and fuel new surges.

Here’s how far omicron has reached:

South Africa

Early samples of PCR tests showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases reported midweek in the South African province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the new variant


At least 19 cases detected


At least three confirmed cases linked to travel in South Africa; the BBC reported six cases in Scotland

Germany Two cases in travelers who arrived at Munich airport from South Africa, AFP reported, citing regional officials.
Netherlands 13 cases detected among travelers from South Africa
Denmark Two cases in arrivals from South Africa
Belgium One case
Israel One confirmed case and other suspected ones, as of Nov. 27.
Italy One case who moved around the country before testing positive
Czech Republic One case, according to local media
Hong Kong SAR Two cases in quarantine hotel
Australia Two cases in Australia’s New South Wales state. Both had traveled from South Africa
Canada Two cases who had recently traveled from Nigeria
Austria One confirmed case in Tyrol for person arriving from South Africa. Authorities reviewing another 30 suspected cases
Switzerland One suspected case for person who entered around a week ago from South Africa
France Eight suspected cases

Preliminary tests of 13 cases “strongly” suggests they’re all related to the omicron variant. One of the cases involves a person who had a recent trip to South Africa.

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First Published: Mon, November 29 2021. 16:43 IST