Risk “very high” – WHO worried about new Corona variant
The new virus variant Omikron is on the advance worldwide. Many countries have tightened their entry requirements again. Now the G7 ministers want to talk about how to proceed. The World Health Organization expects global expansion.
Dhe spread of the newly discovered omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing concern around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the risk from the mutation as “very high” overall. A further global spread and increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases are to be expected. The EU health authority ECDC speaks of serious concerns that Omikron could significantly reduce the effectiveness of corona vaccines and increase the risk of reinfection.
Cases of the variant have now appeared in a number of countries, including Germany. At the weekend it was detected in three travelers in Munich by the Max von Pettenkofer Institute. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, the case of another returnee from South Africa was confirmed in Hesse. In North Rhine-Westphalia there are first suspected cases in Essen and Düsseldorf. The UK, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Italy also reported cases. Omicron infections were found in 13 travelers in the Netherlands.
The Berlin virologist Christian Drosten said on Sunday evening in the ZDF “heute journal” that he was “quite worried” about the variant. One doesn’t know too much about them. Reports of mild courses do not yet have a lot of substance in view of only a good 1000 cases, according to Drosten. Here you have to wait for the clinical course. You can see, however, that it occurs frequently among young people in South Africa and also affects people who have already had an illness. He is concerned that the first real “immune escape mutant” is in front of him.
In order to discuss the current developments, Great Britain has called an unscheduled meeting of the health ministers of the leading western economies (G 7) for Monday. The British government announced on Sunday evening. The time of the deliberations and in what form they would take place was initially unclear. Great Britain will hold the chairmanship of the G-7 countries until the end of the year. In addition to Germany and France, Italy, the USA, Canada and Japan also belong to the alliance.
Rapid distribution in southern Africa
Several countries have already reintroduced stricter travel restrictions. The federal government drastically restricted entry from eight countries in southern Africa. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi and Lesotho have been classified as virus variant areas since Sunday. Airlines are essentially only allowed to carry German citizens or people living in Germany from there to Germany.
A two-week quarantine obligation applies to those entering the country, which cannot be shortened by negative tests – including those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered. The USA will also be restricting entries from the countries of southern Africa from this Monday. President Joe Biden wanted to announce further possible US reactions later in the day.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa criticized the travel restrictions on Sunday evening as unjustified. “These restrictions are an unfair discrimination against our country and our sister states,” said Ramaphosa in a televised address and appealed to reconsider the decisions “before they do more damage”. It is a clear departure from the declaration made at the G20 summit in Rome to help underdeveloped states cope with the impact of the pandemic on their economies.
The previous corona restrictions have already had a devastating impact on the economy in South Africa. The travel restrictions imposed by many countries hit the country particularly hard shortly before the important summer season. Last Thursday, South African virologists announced the discovery of the new variant. They were puzzled because the nationwide incidence suddenly skyrocketed from just under two percent to nine percent.