(Reuters) – US, Germany and Russia joined countries planning stricter covid-19 restrictions on Thursday as the omicron coronavirus variant rattled markets, with investors worried about the impact on the global economic recovery.
still unknown. about omicron, which was first discovered in southern Africa last month and has spread to at least two dozen countries, just as parts of Europe are struggling with an increase in infections of the more well-known delta variant.
But South Africa said on Thursday. it saw an increase in covid-19 re-infections in patients affected by omicron in a way that it did not experience with previous variants.
"Previous infection used to protect against delta but now with omicron this does not seem to be the case." Professor Anne von Gottberg, while adding that South African researchers studying the omicron outbreak thought the symptoms were less severe for those re-infected with the new variant.
The EU. that omicron could be responsible for more than half of all covid-1
The European stock index fell on Thursday, reversing the gains from the previous session, but Wall Street futures pointed to a slightly stronger opening in US session: Markets first declined due to concerns about the new variant on Friday and have been rocking ever since.
US, India, France and Finland d
In Germany, the government was discussing with regional leaders about restricting unvaccinated people's access to all but the major companies, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
Officials are anxious to avoid to trace from a fragile recovery of the German economy, Europe's largest, and is expected to retain companies. open to people who have been fully vaccinated – about 69% of the population – or who have recovered from covid-19.
In the United States, the Biden administration was expected to announce steps that included increased requirements for travelers to wear masks by mid-March.
Early next week, the United States will require incoming international travelers to be tested for covid-19 within one day of departure, regardless of vaccination status.
It will also require private health insurance companies to reimburse customers for covid-19 home tests. said a senior official in the administration.
Sweden also said on Thursday that they could introduce new restrictions as early as next week, without giving details.
The first known American case, which was announced on Wednesday, was a fully vaccinated person in California who returned from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive seven days later. The French case, in the Paris region, was a passenger who arrived from Nigeria.
At the same time, Russia has imposed a two-week quarantine for travelers from certain African countries, including South Africa, said the Interfax news agency, which quoted a senior official. In the midst of all the new restrictions, Europe's largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, said it was expecting a challenging time at Christmas, although it was still optimistic about summer demand.
In Canada, industry groups warned that a plan to require covid -19 tests for all but US arrivals on international flights risked causing "chaos" and long queues if passengers were expected to be tested at airports.
In the Netherlands, health authorities required covid-19 tests before flying for all journeys. from outside the European Union, after it was found that about 90% of the 62 passengers who tested positive after arriving on two flights from South Africa on 26 November had been vaccinated.
The World Health Or. The organization said on Thursday that it is deploying a surge team to South Africa's Gauteng province, the epicenter of the omicron outbreak, to help with monitoring and contact tracing.
BioNTech's CEO said the vaccine they manufacture with Pfizer is likely to offer strong protection against serious illness. from omicron.
GlaxoSmithKline said that a lab analysis of the antibody-based covid-19 therapy it was developing had shown that it was effective against omicron
This is in contrast to Regeneron's study of its covid-19 antibody drug, which it sa may be less effective against omicron. The mother's chief executive raised similar concerns about the company's vaccine.
In France, the country's leading scientific adviser, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, said the "true enemy" was still the delta variant, which spread in a fifth wave.
"We should see a progressive increase in the omicron variant, which will take over from Delta," possibly in late January, he told BFM television.