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Brazil and Japan joined the rapidly widening circle of countries to report cases of the Omicron variant on Tuesday, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm.
The Netherlands' RIVM health institute disclosed that patient samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23 were found to contain the variant. It was on Nov. 24 that South African authorities reported the existence of the highly mutated virus to the World Health Organisation.
That indicates Omicron had a bigger head start in the Netherlands than previously believed.
Forty-two cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant have been confirmed in 10 European Union countries, the head of the EU's public health agency said on Tuesday.
Japan on Wednesday started offering coronavirus vaccine booster shots to health care workers.
Together with the cases in Japan and Brazil, the finding illustrates the difficulty in containing the virus in an age of jet travel and economic globalization. And it left the world once again whipsawed between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come.
Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
Japan on Wednesday started offering coronavirus vaccine booster shots to health care workers amid growing concerns over a new variant of the virus that has already been detected in the country.
Meanwhile, Air travellers to the United States will face tougher COVID-19 testing rules as several countries moved to seal-off their borders amid growing uncertainty around the virulence of the Omicron variant and its ability to dodge existing vaccines.
It could take "days to several weeks" to understand the level of severity of the variant, says the World Health Organisation (WHO), which flagged Omicron as a "variant of concern".
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that deciding the severity level of Omicron, identified first in South Africa, could take "days to several weeks" in the absence of information that its symptoms differed from those of other variants.
There were 146 deaths reported on Monday, bringing the toll to 483,936 since the pandemic first struck India in early 2020. Only the United States and Brazil have recorded more deaths.
He pointed out that prudence and consultations with authorities shall prevent them from falling prey into scams that would also put a stop to the pervasiveness of the crime.
Shishimarin, a Russian sergeant, admitted earlier in court to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the first days of the Kremlin's offensive in north-east Ukraine.
Preliminary investigation revealed that fire was a result of a gas cylinder explosion in the restaurant.