GRENADA, Brazil bans travel from African countries over new COVID variant Omicron

GRENADA, Brazil bans travel from African countries over new COVID variant Omicron

Grenada on Friday became the first CARICOM country to impose a ban on passengers from several African nations as a result of a new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron', that has caused global concern.

According to a statement from the government,  the measures which take immediate effect  says persons with a travel history in the last 14 days to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini will not be allowed into Grenada.

Identified earlier this week, the Omicron variant has been designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) which uses a Greek-letter system to name new strains of the virus which the organization says the variant has a large number of mutations, some of  which are concerning.

The WHO disclosed that preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant.

In an interview with Sky News, South African epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim expressed alarm at the emergence of the variant. "When I look at a variant like this, not only does it have characteristics that made the other variants quite concerning, it has a whole of additional mutations that we just don't know, so we're not sure whether it would be able to evade the antibodies and those are studies we still need to do.
 
But looking at what I'm seeing in the mutations, there's a likelihood that it will have some level of immune escape, and if it does then we would expect that vaccinated people may start getting mild infections," he warned. 
 
In the meantime, the Brazilian government will close its air borders to travelers coming from six southern African countries as of Monday, according to an order published by the Official Journal of the Union on Saturday.
 

This restriction will be applied to travelers coming from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe said Minister Head of the Civil House, Ciro Nogueira. According to Nogueira, this decision was jointly made by the Civil House and the ministries of Infrastructure, Health, Justice and Public Security.

He said that “Brazil will close air borders to six African countries due to the new coronavirus variant. We are going to protect Brazilians in this new phase of the pandemic in that country. The ordinance will be published tomorrow (on Saturday) and should take effect from Monday.”

According to certain medical literature, the B.1.1.529 variant is alarming because it has 50 mutations, something unprecedented, more than 30 in the Spike S protein, “the key” used by the virus to enter the cells and the goal of most Covid-19 vaccines.

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