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Ómicron: the arrival of the new variant in Latin America and how it prepares to face it

During the last week of November, Africa put the world on alert by detecting new cases of COVID-19 infections of a variant unknown until then and that could face a new pandemic wave. Ómicron, as the WHO dubbed it, has become potentially more contagious than Delta and has at least 32 mutations.

Initially it was called ‘B.1.1.529′ And the main concern of the South African virologist Tulio de Oliveira was that “We can see that it has a very high potential for spread.”

Initially, 22 cases were detected, mainly in young people, according to the South Africa National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). Cases were also reported in Botswana and Hong Kong.

Contagions in Europe

From the global alert generated by omicron, the European Union proposed – in an act to prevent the spread in the countries of Europe– suspend flights from the south of Africa.

“The European Commission will propose, in close coordination with the Member States, to activate the emergency brake to interrupt flights from the southern African region due to variant B.1.1.529”, said on Twitter the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on November 26.

That same day, countries like Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, They assured that they will ban travelers from at least 10 countries in Africa from entering their territories to prevent the spread of omicron, which, until the closing of this report, has not registered any deaths.

In all the European Economic Area (European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) they had notified 109 cases until noon on the last Friday, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

United States and Canada announced on Friday the closure of borders to travelers from southern countries of Africa in response to the appearance of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The government of Joe Biden He said people from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (or Swaziland), Mozambique and Malawi will be barred from entering US territory starting Monday.

How is Latin America preparing?

Despite the restrictions imposed by North America, to date have been confirmed in EE.UU. a total of ten cases, two of which corresponded to patients who had not traveled abroad, which indicates that the transmissions are now also local.

On the other hand, the government Chilean announced on Monday the suspension of the opening of three land border crossings scheduled for Wednesday due to the omicron variant of the COVID-19, and also the prohibition of entering the country of people who come from seven African nations.

The land passes that were to be opened are Chacalluta, on the border with Peru; Pino Hachado, on the border with Argentina; and Colchane, on the border with Bolivia.

On Argentina, the Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, announced the postponement of the resumption of direct flights to countries africans which was scheduled for mid-December. He also pointed out that residents of his country must carry a mandatory health pass in a closed place.

This week Brazil confirmed the third case of the new omicron variant, in a traveler from Ethiopia. Before registering the first infections, the country had already closed its borders to six countries of Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe).

Mexico, after Brazil, is the second country in Latin America in registering cases of contagion of the new variant. Until the closing of this report, only one omicron case was revealed in a South African citizen who arrived in the country on November 21.

The Peru has not confirmed any active case of the omicron variant in the country, despite the case of a Peruvian traveler who was detected with the virus in Japan last November 27. It is presumed that he contracted the virus when he made a stopover in Brazil after leaving Peruvian territory.

The government of the president Castillo extended for a month, until December 31, the suspension of flights from South Africa in force since last December, after the announcement of the new variant of the coronavirus, the government reported last Wednesday.

“This includes the prohibition of entry to Peru of non-resident foreigners from the Republic of South Africa, or who have made a stopover in this place in the last 14 days”, reads the statement.


Chile and Cuba reinforce restrictions for travelers before the Omicron variant


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