Coronavirus: latest information on the COVID-19 epidemic in the community – Tuesday, November 30

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7:35 am – Omicron variant of coronavirus carries “very high” global risk, World Health Organization (WHO) warned as more countries report cases of worrying strain, causing borders to close and reviving concerns as to the economic recovery after a two-year pandemic.

Scientists said it could take weeks to understand the severity of the Omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa. Its emergence sparked a strong global backlash, with countries imposing travel restrictions and other restrictions in an attempt to seal off their populations.

Frightened investors wiped an estimated $ 2 trillion from global equities on Friday. Financial markets were calmer on Monday, even after Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, announced it would close its borders to foreigners.

WHO has informed its 194 member countries that any increase in infections could have “serious consequences,” but said no deaths linked to the Omicron variant have been reported so far.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the emergence of Omicron demonstrated the “perilous and precarious” nature of the pandemic.

A leading South African infectious disease expert said Omicron appears to be more transmissible than previous variants, including to people immune to vaccination or a previous infection. South African cases are expected to exceed 10,000 per day this week, up from 2,858 on Sunday and just 300 per day two weeks ago, Professor Salim Abdool Karim said.

But he added that it was too early to tell if the symptoms are more severe, noting that existing COVID-19 vaccines are likely effective in preventing Omicron from causing serious illness.

On Sunday, a South African doctor – one of the first to suspect a new strain – said Omicron so far appeared to be producing mild symptoms in its patients.

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