Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, will close its borders to all foreigners, while Australia’s plans to reopen to skilled migrants were also in doubt as nations rushed on Monday to slow the spread of the variant. Omicron from coronavirus.
Markets regained some composure as investors await more details of the variant after a freefall last week, after news of its emergence ignited fears that new restrictions could end the incipient economic revival of a pandemic. two years.
Potentially more contagious than previous variants, Omicron, first identified in South Africa, has been found in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
It could take “days to several weeks” to understand the level of severity of the variant, says the World Health Organization (WHO), which has called it a “worrisome variant.”
Japan will close its borders to all foreigners starting Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
“We are (taking action) with a strong sense of crisis,” he had told reporters earlier, although Omicron infections have not yet been found in Japan.
Australia will review plans to reopen from December 1 to qualified immigrants and students, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, adding it was “a bit too early” to reinstate the two-week hotel quarantine for foreign travelers. .
“So we take it one step at a time, we get the best information, we make calm and sensible decisions,” Morrison told Nine News.
A national security panel will meet later in the day to assess the border easing scheduled for Wednesday, he added, while state and territory leaders will meet.
Morrison called for calm as the severity, transmissibility and resistance to Omicron’s vaccine had not been determined, echoing the WHO comments.
Omicron’s symptoms are so far mild and could be treated at home, said a South African doctor, one of the first to suspect a different variant.
Countries from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia have imposed travel restrictions on visitors from southern Africa.
Singapore has postponed the start of vaccinated travel routes with Middle Eastern countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in view of their role as “transport hubs” for affected countries, its health ministry said.
The wealthy Southeast Asian city-state and neighboring Malaysia reopened their land border, one of the busiest in the world, allowing vaccinated travelers to cross after a nearly two-year closure.
Britain said it would convene an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday.
In the most far-reaching effort against the variant, Israel will ban the entry of foreigners and reintroduce anti-terrorist phone tracking technology, he said.
South Africa has denounced the measures as unfair and potentially damaging to the economy, saying it was being punished for its scientific ability to identify variants early.
“The travel ban is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday.
“The only thing (it) … will do is further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond.”
President Joe Biden will give an update on the variant and the United States’ response on Monday, the White House said in a statement.
It will take about two weeks to get definitive information on Omicron’s transmissibility and other characteristics, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official, told Biden.
Fauci believes that existing vaccines “will likely provide a degree of protection against severe cases of COVID,” the White House said.