Covid live: Boris Johnson to hold press conference; South Africa ‘punished' for detecting variant

LIVE – Updated at 16:50

Covid live: Boris Johnson to hold press conference; South Africa ‘punished’ for detecting variant
© Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA A Covid testing centre in London. Boris Johnson is due to take part in a news conference at 5pm.

61 travellers from South Africa test positive for Covid in Netherlands; suspected Omicron cases in Germany and Czech Republic; unequal sharing of Covid vaccines likely to lead to more variants, thinktank warns.

 

16:50

After the Omicron variant was detected in Germany in a passenger arriving from South Africa, Peter Tinnemann, head of the Frankfurt Health Authority, said: “Our current routine procedures enable us, together with Frankfurt airport, to quickly implement the necessary measures to minimise the risk of spreading.”

UK death toll increases by 131

16:49

The UK has recorded a further 131 coronavirus-related deaths and 39,567 cases in the latest 24-hour period, government figures show.

 

16:29

Czech Republic president Milos Zeman left a Prague hospital on Saturday to name the country’s new prime minister a day later, his spokesman told AFP.

Zeman is due to appoint Petr Fiala, head of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party, as prime minister at his Lany chateau residence on Sunday morning.

However, it is still not clear how the ceremony will proceed as the 77-year-old Zeman has to isolate for two weeks under health ministry rules.

Zeman was first hospitalised on October 10. He was released last Thursday but returned to hospital on the same day after testing positive for Covid-19.

 

16:19

Essex County Council in England has confirmed it is aware of a case of the new Omicron variant:

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “We can confirm that a single case involving the new Covid-19 Variant of Concern (B 1.1.529) , Omicron, has been identified in Brentwood. This is linked to a single case from Nottingham involving international travel to South Africa. pic.twitter.com/0AfNoydRSD

— Essex County Council (@Essex_CC) November 27, 2021

 

16:13

Here are more details on the UK government adding four more countries to its red list after two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant were detected.

Related: UK travel red list to include Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola

 

16:02

Scientists in the UK are responding to the news that two cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Brentwood and in Nottingham.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Neil Stone tweeted that it was no surprise that the variant had been found in the UK, but noted travels bans might not be “completely useless” as both confirmed cases were linked to travel in southern Africa.

He wrote:

Surprise surprise, Omicron has been found in the UK. As usual, by the time we discover it exists, it’s everywhere.

Importantly, both cases apparently linked to travel in Southern Africa..so maybe travel bans not COMPLETELY pointless just yet (they will be very soon though)

That’s it from me, Léonie Chao-Fong, for today. I’m handing over to my colleague Tom Ambrose.

 

15:58 Andrew Gregory

England is to add four more countries to its travel “red list”, health officials have announced, after two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in the UK.

Following fresh advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), from 4am on Sunday Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will join the red list. Travellers who have returned from these four countries in the last 10 days must isolate and get a PCR test, officials said.

The Guardian understands the UKHSA is now following up recent arrivals from these countries. Ministers are not ruling out adding further countries to the red list.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said:

We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the impacted communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We will not hesitate to take further action if required.

From 4am on Sunday non-UK and Irish residents who have been in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England, officials said. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.

UK and Irish residents arriving from 4am on Sunday must isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8.

South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia were added to the red list on Thursday and passengers arriving in the UK from these countries from 4am on Sunday will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine for 10 days.

Fauci ‘would not be surprised’ if Omicron already in US

15:39

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he “would not be surprised” if the Omicron variant was already in the United States.

Speaking to NBC News today, the president’s chief medical adviser said there was yet to be a confirmed case of the variant in the US but added:

You know, I would not be surprised if it is.

We have not detected it yet, but when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve noted in Israel and Belgium and other places, when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go, essentially all over.

Its ability to infect people who have recovered from infection and even people who have been vaccinated makes us say this is something you have to pay really close attention to and be prepared for something that’s serious.

It may not turn out that way, but you really want to be ahead of it.

 

15:34

Singapore has recorded 1,761 new cases, up from 1,090 the previous day.

A further six deaths were also reported, compared with three on Friday. The latest figures take the total number of fatalities in the country of 5.7 million people to 690.

Two cases of Omicron variant detected in UK

15:07

Two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in the UK, the health secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said the two individuals are now self-isolating and the cases are connected.

He added there would be targeted testing in the areas where the cases were found – in Chelmsford and Nottingham.

 

14:44

Asked if the UK public should now expect changes “as we head into Christmas”, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

We’ve always been really clear that we will do whatever is necessary to protect the progress that we’ve made as a country.

We’ve come a long way, especially since the summer, and we keep all of this under review and if we need to take further action, we will.

Boris Johnson is due to take part in a news conference at 5pm with the chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, and the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, “to set out further measures”.

When asked what the public’s response should be, Javid replied:

If anyone is sitting at home, thinking what can I do – get vaccinated.

 

14:33

Four more countries are being added to the UK’s travel “red list” from 4am on Sunday: Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, said:

We have moved rapidly and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.

We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the impacted communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We will not hesitate to take further action if required.

This is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic.

Getting the vaccine has never been more important – please come forward for your first jab if you haven’t already and if eligible, book your booster as soon as possible.

 

14:32 Andrew Gregory

After overnight genome sequencing, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that two cases of Covid-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 have been identified in the UK.

The individuals that have tested positive, and all members of their households, are being retested and told to self-isolate while further testing and contact tracing is under way, officials said.

One case has been located in Chelmsford and the other in Nottingham. The two cases are linked, officials said, and there is a link to travel to southern Africa. The UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to have been infectious.

A summary of today’s developments

13:53

  • The first suspected case of the Omicron Covid variant in the Czech Republic is under investigation. The prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said the suspected infection was a woman who stayed in Namibia, and then flew home via South Africa and Dubai.
  • In Germany, a minister in the state of Hesse said the Omicron variant, known officially as B.1.1.529, had probably arrived in a traveller returning from South Africa. The country’s top health officials have raised the prospect of a national lockdown amid rapidly rising cases and hospitalisations.
  • Dozens of people who arrived in the Netherlands on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for Covid. Dutch authorities are scrambling to see if 61 passengers from South Africa who tested positive for Covid-19 have the new B.1.1.529 variant.
  • There have been 77 fully confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in South Africa, four cases in Botswana and one in Hong Kong. Cases have also been reported in Israel and Belgium, although it is possible the variant has spread further.
  • The Omicron variant is unlikely to “reboot” the pandemic in a population that has been widely vaccinated, according to Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group.
  • South Africa has complained it is being “punished” for detecting the Omicron variant, as countries around the world rushed to impose travel bans from southern African countries.
  • Travel bans from certain African countries have been introduced by the UK, US, EU, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman and Thailand, among others.
  • BioNTech, the company that developed the Pfizer jab, has said it could manufacture and distribute an updated version of its vaccine within 100 days if the new Covid variant is found to evade existing immunity.

 

13:28

Hi, it’s Léonie Chao-Fong again. South Africa has complained it is being “punished” for detecting the Omicron variant.

The foreign ministry made the statement as countries around the world rushed to impose travel bans from southern African countries.

“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished,” it said.

The bans on flights was said to be “akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker”.

 

13:26 Clea Skopeliti

Members of the UK’s Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have expressed concern at the emergence of the Omicron variant when Covid cases in the UK are high and people are socialising indoors.

Dr Zubaida Haque called on the government to take “early and preventative action now”, saying “high cases and no mitigations means spread of new variant is faster”.

It’s not just the emergence of #Omicron – a more transmissible & possibly vaccine-resistant variant which is problematic (given more indoor socialising, low children’s vaxx and incomplete booster protection); it’s also that it’s arriving at a time when cases are 50,000/day in UK https://t.co/AtvAyjhkel

— Dr Zubaida Haque (@Zubhaque) November 27, 2021

Meanwhile, Prof Susan Michie and Dr Kit Yates have thrown their weight behind Prof Stephen Reicher “debunking the idea of behavioural fatigue”.

“The evidence is that people respond to clear leadership from trusted sources,” Michie said.

Advocating for a policy of elimination, Dr Deepti Gurdasani stressed that “with every shift in the virus we risk dealing with a shift in the pandemic”.

“Progressive coordinated and supported global elimination was the only way to really deal with this threat. And with every new variant, it gets harder to do this,” she said.

Elimination zones struggled with delta but managed to do this through strong public messaging & aggressive action in many places. With every shift in the virus we risk dealing with a shift in the pandemic, and every step threatens elimination in places that fought hard for this.

— Deepti Gurdasani (@dgurdasani1) November 27, 2021

Gurdasani said a lack of mandatory hotel quarantine in the UK means “spread can happen in households and onward” and called for comprehensive mandatory border quarantines from all regions, mask mandates, mitigations in schools and limits on large gatherings. She also urged the booster programme and vaccine drive for children to be accelerated.

 

12:43

Authorities in the Czech Republic reported the first suspected case of the Omicron variant has been identified in a passenger who arrived from Africa.

The prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said the suspected infection was a woman who stayed in Namibia, and then flew home via South Africa and Dubai.

This is Harry Taylor, bringing you Covid news for the next hour.

 

11:43

A useful thread from Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, on what factors to look out for in terms of learning about the Omicron variant.

As a new variant many issues to resolve amid uncertainty. Having great public health & science people, teams, infrastructure & close links into informed policy makers committed to sharing evidence is crucial. Fortunately all that is true in South Africa.They need all our support

— Jeremy Farrar (@JeremyFarrar) November 27, 2021

Among the key points to look for are the variant’s epidemiology, its clinical impact and how it fares under existing public health measures. Farrar adds:

New variants are inevitable the virus remains highly plastic still evolving and will continue to do so. New variants are not a reason to stop doing what we know works.

New variants are a reminder if we needed it that the pandemic is far from over, inequity is what will extend the pandemic. We do need to do inclusive public health better including urgent equitable access to vaccines and all the tools needed stop pandemic.

 

11:42 Denis Campbell

The unequal sharing of Covid vaccines globally is likely to lead to more variants like Omicron emerging, the international affairs thinktank Chatham House is warning.

“The emergence of a new Covid-19 variant with all its myriad mutations – on this occasion from South Africa – is not unexpected,” said Dr Osman Dar, the project director of Chatham House’s One Health Project and a specialist in public health and the control of communicable diseases.

What it highlights are the continuing and fundamental risks to everyone associated with not seriously addressing the inequalities still at play globally in the fight against disease and poor health.

Mutations will continue to surface, as will in all likelihood other infectious viruses with pandemic potential. This latest variant – rapidly detected thanks to South Africa’s relatively advanced genomic sequencing capability and willingness to engage with international partners and collaborating agencies – has for South Africa resulted in a series of travel bans restricting their citizens and impediments to international trade.

African states will pay the price of travel bans which are implemented to try to contain the spread of Omicron, while drug companies will benefit from the search for modified vaccines, he added.

Movement restrictions, including international travel bans do clearly slow and limit the spread of infectious disease, and as is the case is with the current pandemic, allow countries the time and breathing space to prepare medical countermeasures as well as adapt strategies to control local outbreaks.

While for drug and vaccine manufacturers, largely based in the global north, it represents the firing of a start-gun in the next race for market share and profit as they test whether their currently licensed IP-protected vaccines will be effective and whether or not a new, modified vaccine is necessary.

So in effect, a low/middle income nation – along with the continent it sits in – is economically penalised, socially ostracised and socio-politically stigmatised for demonstrating global solidarity and doing the right thing through their timely reporting and sharing of the variant’s genetic data. Meanwhile, a small group of hugely wealthy pharmaceutical companies find new opportunities to generate exorbitant profits as fear starts to once again grip politicians and the wider public.

What’s necessary, therefore, to limit the negative socioeconomic impacts of these restrictive measures on trade and travel, is to have a sufficiently resourced global regime in place. This should support countries reporting new variants through the significant financial and social hardships that then ensue – a disaster or pandemic fund specifically engineered around the impacts of trade and travel restrictions.

 

11:36

Hello! It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here, taking over the live blog from Aamna Mohdin. Here’s a bit more on the 61 passengers onboard the two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam who tested positive for Covid-19.

Dutch health authorities said the positive cases were being quarantined in a hotel near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

“We now know that 61 of the results were positive and 531 negative,” the Dutch health authority (GGD) said in a statement.

“The positive test results will be examined as soon as possible to determine whether this concerns the new worrisome variant, which has since been given the name Omicron variant.”

Those who tested positive will be required to stay in hotel quarantine for seven days if they show symptoms and for five days if they do not. Those who test negative are expected to isolate at home.

The Dutch government had banned all air travel from South Africa early on Friday because of concerns about the Omicron variant. Testing is required before flights.

Around 600 passengers arrived at Schiphol on the two KLM flights on Friday and then faced hours of delays and testing.

The passengers from the two aircraft, which landed shortly after each other, were kept separate from other people at the airport, De Telegraaf reports. One aircraft came from Cape Town and landed at Schiphol around 10.30 am on Friday. The other flight, from Johannesburg, arrived at around 11am.

Some people complained about the lack of information from airport officials and said it took seven hours before they were given anything to eat or drink.

Lorraine Blaauw, who runs a support group for South African families in the Netherlands, told DutchNews.nl she had been contacted by several people onboard the two flights.

“It was chaos,” she said. “No one knew what was going on. There was no food, no milk for the babies. KLM provided 30 blankets for 600 people. The KLM crew just went home.”

The Kennemerland health board, which is responsible for testing at the airport, said it understood the frustration under passengers about the situation. “People who have just had a long journey … were confronted with a situation we have never had to deal with before,” the health board said in a statement.

Suspected Omicron case found in Germany, says state minister

11:09

A German state minister has warned that the Omicron variant has “very likely already arrived” in Germany, as mutations typical of the variant were detected in a traveller returning from South Africa.

“Last night several Omicron-typical mutations were found in a traveller returning from South Africa,” tweeted Kai Klose, the minister of state for social affairs and integration in the western German state of Hesse.

The full sequencing of the variant hasn’t yet been carried out, but he said health authorities had a “high level of suspicion” that the person has contracted the variant. The traveller has been isolated at home.

If confirmed, it would be the first case of Omicron in Germany.

No further details were given about the passenger or which airport the infected person arrived at. Frankfurt international airport, Germany’s busiest airport, is located in the state of Hesse.

“If you have returned from southern Africa in the last week, limit your contacts and get tested,” Klose warned.

Sixty-one travellers from South Africa in Netherlands test positive for Covid

09:52

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 on 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. The health minister, Hugo de Jonge, determined that passengers already en route to the Netherlands would have to undergo testing and quarantine upon arrival.

 

09:14

The UK should cut the gap between the second dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and the booster jab from six to five months, the Labour party said on Saturday, Reuters reports.

As the new Omicron variant sparked concern around the world, Alex Norris, Labour’s junior health spokesperson, said:

This new variant is a wake-up call.

The pandemic is not over. We need to urgently bolster our defences to keep the virus at bay.

Yesterday, Labour called on ministers to act quickly to “get a grip” of the issues before Omicron had a chance to take hold.

Related: Omicron variant spreads to Europe as UK announces countermeasures

Omicron variant unlikely to lead to ‘reboot of pandemic’ – director of Oxford Vaccine Group

09:09

The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, which developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, expressed cautious optimism that existing vaccines could be effective at preventing serious disease from the Omicron variant and said it is unlikely to result in a reboot of the pandemic.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof Sir Andrew Pollard said:

If you look at where most of the mutations are, they are similar to regions of the spike protein that have been seen with other variants so far and that tells you that despite mutations existing in other variants, the vaccines have continued to prevent very severe disease as we’ve moved through Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

At least from a speculative point of view we have some optimism that the vaccine should still work against this variant for severe disease but really we need to wait several weeks to have that confirmed.

But it is extremely unlikely that a reboot of a pandemic in a vaccinated population like we saw last year is going to happen

Pollard added that it was still too early from the data in South Africa to make any decisive conclusions of the impact the Omicron variant will have.

He was also hopeful that a new vaccine, if needed, could be developed rapidly. He said:

The processes of how one goes about developing a new vaccine are increasingly well oiled.

So if it’s needed that is something that could be moved very rapidly.

 

08:32

Many passengers on the two flights that arrived from South Africa to the Netherlands last night did not wear face coverings, New York Times reporter Stephanie Nolen says.

Nolen, who was on one plane, said many passengers did not follow the health guidelines despite a mask mandate by Dutch airline KLM, which operated both flights.

We now know that dozens of those passengers tested positive for Covid, although authorities have yet to confirm the presence of the Omicron variant.

Passengers were stuck on the airport tarmac for about four hours before being sent to be swabbed, tweeted Nolen, who later said she tested negative.

“… still probably 30% of ppl are wearing no mask or only over mouth. Dutch authorities not enforcing. We’re just all in this unventilated room at hour 12, breathing on each other,” she added.

“After all that time with maskless yellers in an unventilated space – we shall see what the next days bring.”

South Africa’s hospitals see rise in younger Covid patients

08:32

The number of confirmed Omicron Covid cases in South Africa is still relatively low, with 2,828 new confirmed cases recorded on Friday, but its speed in infecting young people in the country has alarmed health professionals, the Associated Press reports.

“We’re seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of patients with Covid-19,” Rudo Mathivha, head of the intensive care unit at Soweto’s Baragwanath hospital, told an online press briefing.

“Young people, in their 20s to just over their late 30s, are coming in with moderate to severe disease, some needing intensive care. About 65% are not vaccinated and most of the rest are only half-vaccinated,” said Mathivha.

“I’m worried that as the numbers go up, the public health care facilities will become overwhelmed.”

She said urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential large influx of patients needing intensive care.

Diagnostic tests so far indicate the Omicron variant may be responsible for as many as 90% of the new cases, according to South Africa’s health officials.

Early studies show that it has a reproduction rate of 2 — meaning that every person infected by it is likely to spread it to two other people.

 

08:31

Sri Lanka is the latest country to ban travellers from six southern African countries on Saturday over concerns about the new Omicron Covid variant.

From Monday, travellers will not be allowed into the country from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini, a statement from the director general of health services said, local publication the Deccan Herald reports.

Travellers who arrived from these six countries over the past two days will have to undergo mandatory 14 days quarantine.

 

08:26

Morning, I’m Aamna Mohdin and I’ll be helming the blog for the next few hours. If you want to get in touch, you can email me (aamna.mohdin@theguardian.com) or message me on Twitter (@aamnamohdin)

 

07:30

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.

 

07:10

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.

 

07:07

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.
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© – A handout picture released by the Facebook page of the Iraqi ministry of transportation, shows a damaged stationary aircraft on the tarmac of Baghdad airport, after rockets reportedly ... Read more »

Australian Open: Playing tennis much more important than winning 21st Grand Slam crown, says Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal on Friday said he is not thinking too much about winning a 21st Grand Slam on Sunday at the Australian Open but continuing to play the ... Read more »

Indian capital lifts weekend curfew as Omicron wave slows

India’s capital Delhi has lifted a weekend curfew and allowed restaurants and marketplaces to reopen following a sharp drop in new infections of COVID-19. Under new orders, however, the city ... Read more »

After Biden's warning, Russia says does not want war : Live news

© Provided by Al Jazeera Lavrov’s remarks on Friday came a day after the United States and NATO submitted their responses to Russia’s sweeping security demands [File: Denis Balibouse/Reuters] Russia’s ... Read more »

On NATO's front lines, a difference of opinion on how to best respond to Russia

With NATO pondering how to appropriately respond to Russia’s mobilization along the Ukrainian border, a small element of possible deterrence arrived this week in Rukla, Lithuania. Flatbed railcars, loaded with armoured infantry ... Read more »

Dolly Parton says she dresses up for husband Carl Thomas Dean to ‘keep things spicy'

Dolly Parton made known to E! News’ Daily Pop on how she keeps the spark alive in her marriage with Carl Thomas Dean. creen Grab/CBS ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. Dolly ... Read more »

After 15 years as host of Ontario Morning, Wei Chen is retiring from CBC

© CBC After 15 years as host of CBC’s Ontario Morning, Wei Chen is going on air for the last time Friday morning. Wei Chen is going on air for ... Read more »

Cadangan kembalikan kementerian undang-undang dikemuka kepada PM, KSN

© Provided by Sinar Harian PUTRAJAYA- Cadangan untuk mengembalikan Bahagian Hal Ehwal Undang-undang (BHEUU), Jabatan Perdana Menteri (JPM) sebagai sebuah kementerian akan dikemukakan kepada Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri ... Read more »

DepEd told: Provide teachers, students laptops to access free Adobe apps

© Provided by InterAksyon Concerns on accessibility of Adobe licenses were raised after the Department of Education announced that it would provide software licenses for free to all public schools ... Read more »

Das Kader als höchster Trumpf der Young Boys

© KEYSTONE/PETER SCHNEIDER Wenn sie zum fünften Mal am Stück Schweizer Meister werden wollen, müssen die Young Boys ab diesem Wochenende, ab Beginn der Rückrunde, liefern. Die Zahlen besagen, dass ... Read more »

So flitzte der Puck: Im Tessin fliegen die Fäuste

© Bereitgestellt von Blick Im Tessin fliegen die Fäuste Die gestrigen Resultate Ajoie – Fribourg 1:4 Bern – Zug 4:1 Biel – SCL Tigers 7:3 SCRJ Lakers – Davos 0:3 ... Read more »

Video: Pod of dolphins leap out of the turquoise sea off Cornwall in stunning drone footage

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Video: Biden warns Ukraine's President Zelensky to prepare for invasion: Russia will be ready to mount a complete take-over in TWO WEEKS and could move in on Kiev using Belarus wargames as cover, western allies fear

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Saman RM15.8 bilion 1MDB tidak perlu, kata Jho Low

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today 1MDB dan empat anak syarikatnya mahu mendapatkan semula USD3.78 bilion daripada Jho Low, keluarganya dan seorang pembantunya. KUALA LUMPUR: Ahli perniagaan dalam buruan Low ... Read more »

Banking scams are soaring, and victims are not getting their money back

© Provided by Times Live A new wave of fraud is targeting bank customers and the number of people falling victim to the scammers is increasing too, the ombud for ... Read more »

H.E.R. unveiled as new face of L'Oréal Paris

© Provided by Cover Media H.e.r. H.E.R. has been named as the new global spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris. Executives at the French cosmetics giant announced on Thursday that the I ... Read more »

WCED says SIU report made no findings of corruption, fraud against it

© @DebbieSchafer/Twitter FILE: Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer. CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report offered no findings of ... Read more »

Tributes pour in for late veteran radio personality Winnie Mahlangu — the 'OG radio queen'

© Provided by Times Live The SABC confirmed the news in a statement on Thursday revealing that she died in hospital recently. “The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) would like to ... Read more »

Top SoftBank exec quits after reported clash over compensation

© ALEX WONG Marcelo Claure, pictured here in 2019, has left SoftBank Group Japanese investment giant SoftBank Group said Friday its chief operating officer Marcelo Claure is leaving the company, ... Read more »

Malaysian floods caused $1.4 bn in losses: government

© Arif KARTONO Heavy monsoon rains forced about 125,000 Malaysians from their homes between mid-December and early January Devastating floods that hit Malaysia in recent weeks caused about $1.4 billion ... Read more »

From Fear and Disbelief, We Are Now Ready for Peaceful Coexistence with COVID

© Provided by News18 From Fear and Disbelief, We Are Now Ready for Peaceful Coexistence with COVID It has been about two years now since the ubiquitous, tiny, invisible enemy ... Read more »

SC Says Suspension of 12 MLAs by Maha Assembly 'Unconstitutional': What State, Petitioners Argued

© Provided by News18 SC Says Suspension of 12 MLAs by Maha Assembly ‘Unconstitutional’: What State, Petitioners Argued The Supreme Court on Friday held that a resolution suspending 12 BJP ... Read more »

Bengal post-poll violence: CBI announces cash reward for info on accused in BJP worker's death

Probing post-poll violence cases in West Bengal, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each for information on the five absconding accused in ... Read more »

Wachstum von 0,7 Prozent: Französische Wirtschaft bleibt auf Erholungskurs

Die französische Wirtschaft ist zum Jahresschluss auf Erholungskurs geblieben. Im vierten Quartal wuchs die zweitgrösste Volkswirtschaft der Eurozone zum Vorquartal um 0,7 Prozent,. © Bereitgestellt von Blick Französische Wirtschaft bleibt ... Read more »

Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from US Supreme Court: What you should know about the selection process

© Provided by Firstpost Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from US Supreme Court: What you should know about the selection process In a letter to US president Joe Biden, US ... Read more »

Cases plateauing in parts of India but omicron still surges

The Associated PressAn elderly receives Covid-19 vaccination at a makeshift center in a government school in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. Indian health officials said that the first ... Read more »

Covid-19: As govt eases restrictions, here's what's allowed and what's not in Chennai

Chennai: Tamil Nadu govt eases Covid-19 restrictions, here’s what’s allowed and what’s not The MK Stalin-led DMK government has lifted the night curfew in Chennai and other parts of the ... Read more »

Alabama executes disabled man, 44, by lethal injection after Supreme Court REJECTS claims state did not help convicted killer with 'language skills of a 4-year-old' to understand paperwork allowing him to die by a less 'tortuous' nitrogen hypoxia

Death Row inmate Matthew Reeves was executed at Holman Prison, Alabama He was convicted of capital murder of taxi driver Willie Johnson in Selma in 1996 Defence lawyers claimed Reeves had an 'intellectual disability', meaning he did not understand forms he was asked to fill out regarding his execution optionsSupreme Court ruled he had proper counsel and allowed execution to proceed  Read more »

Jason Momoa pictured looking disheveled while 'living in $750k camper van in friend's front yard' after shock split from wife Lisa Bonet

Jason Momoa is living in his camper van parked at a friend’s Los Angeles house after announcing his shock divorce from wife Lisa Bonet this month. The Aquaman star, 42, ... Read more »
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