Police officers stand guard as travellers arrive for hotel quarantine in Melbourne. AFP
Six more US states confirmed infections of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Friday but the Delta strain likely remains a greater threat as winter sets in and Americans gather for the holidays, experts said.
New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Utah each reported their first cases of the Omicron variant on Friday. Missouri was awaiting CDC confirmation of a case involving a St. Louis resident who had recently travelled within the United States.
Canada has discovered a total of 15 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and severe illness trends across the country could start to rise again, public health officials said on Friday.
The federal government said it backed a recommendation of a national advisory board on immunisations that all adults above 50 should receive a booster shot six months after completion of a vaccine series.
Pennsylvania and Utah each reported their first cases of the Omicron variant on Friday.
Ottawa announced last week it will require people arriving by air from all nations except the United States to take a COVID-19 test, and it expanded a ban on travellers from southern Africa to cover 10 nations.
Scientists are still investigating the impact of the highly contagious Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa. Early evidence has suggested it may cause milder illness than its predecessors, including Delta.
The outbreak of Omicron has made worldwide headlines and prompted political leaders to impose new COVID-19 restrictions. But the predominant U.S. strain remains Delta, Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a briefing at the White House.
The Utah case was discovered through ongoing genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples at the state laboratory, the state's health department said on Twitter.
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The Omicron coronavirus variant spread in Australia on Saturday, testing plans to reopen the economy as a cluster in Sydney grew to 13 cases and an infection was suspected in the state of Queensland.
Federal authorities are sticking with a plan to reopen the economy on the hope that the new variant proves to be milder than previous strains, but some state and territory governments have moved to tighten their domestic border controls.
Australia reported its first community transmission of Omicron on Friday at a school in Sydney. Authorities are investigating the source.
Further Omicron cases were expected over the weekend when more tests results come, said Kerry Chant, chief health officer of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital.
Queensland authorities said the state suspected its first Omicron case in a person who travelled from South Africa and that genome sequencing was ongoing.
With 554,296 deaths and over 30 million confirmed cases, the United States tops the list of twenty countries with the highest recorded infections and deaths in the world.
Health officials in Germany’s Munich city and Australia's state Sydney have confirmed on Sunday that two arrivals (both the countries) from southern Africa over the weekend had tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant.
New South Wales state authorities reported on Sunday that two travelers from South Africa to Sydney had become Australia’s first Omicron cases. Both were fully vaccinated, showed no symptoms and were in quarantine in Sydney.
Nineteen-year-old Zara Rutherford landed back at Kortrijk-Wevelgem Airport in Belgium after flying 51,000 km (32,000 miles) over 52 nations https://flyzolo.com/route since her Aug. 18 departure in the world's fastest microlight aircraft.
The ban follows an accident on Jan.10 in which nine traders died and 20 others were injured when a truck returning from a weekly market near Lira overturned. Police blamed speed and reckless driving for the crash.
"The first accident occurred in the early morning in Al Karama tunnel, when a bus crashed into a light vehicle causing ten minor injuries," he explained.