THE HAGUE (AP) — The Netherlands confirmed 13 cases on Sunday of the new omicron version of , while Australia discovered two. These were the latest detections of it among travelers from southern Africa.

Morocco announced it would ban foreigners from entering Israel and Israel for two weeks, the latest in a series of travel restrictions being implemented by countries around the globe to stop the variant spreading just days after its identification by South African researchers.

“Act first, ask questions later” was a response to growing concern about the possibility of an even more contagious strain that could lead to a pandemic that has already killed over 5 million people.

Experts cautioned, however, that much is still unknown about this new strain. The World Health Organization urged that borders be kept open to avoid any potential harm. Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, stressed that no evidence has been found that the new variant is more dangerous than the COVID-19 variants. It is not known if the new variant is more resistant to vaccines.

It is more contagious if you consider how quickly it spreads through South Africa. It is highly likely to spread from one person or another, which has its earmarks. “What we don’t know about it is its ability to compete with delta,” Collins stated on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Collins stated that the news should encourage everyone to increase their efforts to make use of the tools available, such as booster shots and mask-wearing.

According to the Dutch public health authority, 13 South Africans who arrived in Amsterdam on Friday were confirmed positive for omicron. These were among the 61 people who had tested positive for the virus on Friday after they arrived at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. They were quickly isolated, with most of them at a nearby hotel.

Australian authorities have confirmed that two travellers from Africa arrived in Sydney and became the first to test positive for the virus. All visitors from nine African countries must quarantine in a hotel after they arrive. Over the weekend, three cases were reported by two German states.

Israel moved in order to prohibit foreigners from entering and to impose quarantine on all Israelis who arrive from abroad.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that “Restrictions to the country’s border is not an easy step but it’s temporary and necessary step” at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Dr. Ran Balicer, the head of the government’s advisory panel on COVID-19 said that new measures were necessary in the “fogof war” surrounding the variant. He stated that it was better to take action early and to stop its spread.

Sunday’s tweet by Morocco’s Foreign Ministry stated that all flights to North Africa would be suspended. This was to preserve the “accomplishments realized by Morocco in fighting against the pandemic” and to protect citizens’ health.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the United States, the top expert in infectious diseases, stated that he would not be surprised if the Omicron variant is already present in the United States, even though it hasn’t been found there yet.

Beginning Monday, the U.S. will bantravel to South Africa and seven other countries in southern Africa. Fauci stated that the ban on ABC’s This Week would give them time to improve their preparedness.

Hugo de Jonge, Dutch Health Minister, said that he had asked his country’s national health institute whether any additional travel restrictions were necessary. However, he would like to coordinate with his counterparts in the European Union.

Numerous countries have banned or restricted travel from certain southern African countries. This is contrary to the WHO’s advice, which warns against overreactions until the variant has been thoroughly researched.

South Africa’s government reacted angrily to travel bans. It claimed they were “akin to punishing South Africa because of its advanced genomic sequencing and ability to detect new variants faster.” It stated that it would try to persuade other countries to lift them.

The WHO issued a statement stating that it “stands alongside African nations” and urging for open borders. While travel restrictions can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they also place heavy burdens on people’s lives and livelihoods. It stated that restrictions should not be excessively intrusive or intrusive and should be scientifically supported.

Officials were alert in Europe, which has seen a dramatic increase in cases in recent weeks.

After finding two cases of omicron, the U.K. tightened its rules regarding mask-wearing and testing international arrivals. However, Sajid Javid, British Health Secretary, said that while there were some restrictions on mask-wearing, the U.K. was not close to reinstituting work at home or other severe social-distancing measures.

Sky News’s he said that “We now know that these types of measures do have a very heavy cost, both economically and socially in terms of non COVID health outcomes, such as impact on the mental health.”

Spain has announced that it will not accept unvaccinated British tourists starting Dec. 1.

It was reviewing the lists of passengers who had flown to Italy in the last two weeks following the positive test for omicron by a Mozambican business traveler. He arrived in Rome on November 11 and returned to Mozambique. Alessio Da’Amato, the top health official in Lazio, stated that “controls at ports, airports and train stations were strengthened.”

Olivier Veran, French Minister of Health, stated that while there are no confirmed cases in France, it is possible that there are currently cases.

Veran stated that France will continue to use its current strategy of increasing vaccines and boosters to combat the latest wave of infections caused by the delta variant.

David Hui is a Hong Kong-based expert in respiratory medicine and government advisor on the pandemic. He agreed to this strategy.

He stated that the two individuals who were positive for the Omicron variant had been vaccinated by Pfizer and showed mild symptoms such as sore throats.

He stated that vaccines must work, but they would have a reduction in effectiveness.


Moulson reported in Berlin. This report was contributed by Zen Soo in Hong Kong and Adam Schreck from Bangkok.