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New COVID-19 strain, Omicron, alarms the world

The World Health Organization (WHO) set the recently discovered COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529 or Omicron, as a variant of concern.

The Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa on November 24, and the infection spread to Germany and the Czech Republic, Botswana, Hong Kong, and Belgium. Around the globe, there were also two cases detected in the United Kingdom, one in Italy, two in Bavaria, and one in Israel.

An infectious-disease specialist from South Africa claimed that the new strain is more transmissible and becoming the dominant type among other COVID-19 variants.

According to Dr. Angelique Coetzee, a South African doctor, the positive patients experienced sore muscles, tiredness, and cough. Some patients can still smell and taste, and their symptoms can be treated at home.

United States, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Brazil are countries that announced their travel restriction to almost eight African countries. The target countries in the travel ban include South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Moreover, the Philippines discussed the countries to be included in the temporary ban list as an action against the South African strain.

The new variant is under study, and WHO said that it could take several weeks to know the nature of Omicron. Amid progressive vaccination operations, scientists said that variants could emerge due to virus mutations.

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