Covid-19 has infected more than 263M people and killed over 5.2M worldwide. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments:
Thursday, December 2, 2021
US reports its first known Omicron case
The United States has identified its first known Covid case caused by the Omicron variant, discovered in a fully vaccinated patient who traveled to South Africa, as scientists continue to study the risks the new version could pose.
Public health officials said the infected person, who had mild and improving symptoms, returned to the United States from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive seven days later.
That patient was fully vaccinated but did not have a booster shot, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, who briefed reporters at the White House.
The person is in self-quarantine and all of the patient’s close contacts have tested negative, he said.
South Korea sees more than 5,000 new cases
South Korea’s daily coronavirus case numbers have risen to a new high, as authorities halted quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travellers for two weeks in a bid to fend off the Omicron variant.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 5,266 new cases, a day after the daily tally rose above 5,000 for the first time amid concerns over a sharp rise in patients with severe symptoms.
South Korea will require a 10-day quarantine for all inbound travellers for two weeks starting on Friday, halting exemptions given earlier to fully vaccinated people, the KDCA said.
South Africa ‘punished’ with travel ban for detecting new variants quicker
South Africa’s president has said that the latest round of Covid-19-related travel bans is akin to punishing the country for its advanced genomic sequencing and ability to detect new variants quicker.
“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished,” Cyril Ramaphosa said in his opening remarks during a state visit to Nigeria.
Last week, South African scientists announced that they had discovered a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations compared to previous variants and reported it to the World Health Organization, which named it Omicron.
Days later, a number of countries imposed travel bans on South Africa and other southern African countries, including Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
Facebook’s parent company Meta has said it derailed an anti-vaccine campaign that harassed medical workers, journalists, and elected officials, in a signal of the ongoing pressure from coronavirus pandemic-tied misinformation.
The social media giant took down accounts in France and Italy that were linked to a conspiracy movement called “V_V”, which inundated pro-vaccine posts with potentially tens of thousands of comments.
“V-V” supporters also “mass-harassed” people on YouTube, Twitter, VKontakte, and other online platforms, using swastikas or other images as well as calling doctors and media workers “Nazi supporters” for backing vaccines, Meta said.
The company’s update regarding efforts to counter misinformation and harassment on its platform comes as the tech giant battles accusations that it puts profit over user safety.