'If that happens to kill somebody...': UK expert's warning over Omicron variant
- Omicron has prompted countries across the globe to tighten travel restrictions as uncertainty over the new B.1.1.529 variant grows.
Amid the global concern over the Omicron variant, UK’s top epidemiologist has warned people against assuming that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) evolve into a milder infection. Neil Ferguson, the head of the disease outbreak analysis and modelling group at Imperial College London, told British parliamentarians that the threat posed by the Omicron variant will not be clear until the end of December, The Guardian reported.
“The virus cares about replicating very fast within the respiratory tract and getting out into the environment. If that happens to kill somebody 10 days later the virus really doesn’t care,” Ferguson, who influenced the governments’ response around the world with his initial Covid-19 modelling, said.
Omicron has prompted countries across the globe to tighten travel restrictions as uncertainty over the new B.1.1.529 variant grows. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned over the inequitable access of vaccines and overall low vaccine coverage globally as the highly transmissible Deta variant remains the dominant variant worldwide.
"Globally, we have a toxic mix of low vaccine coverage, and very low testing -- a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from Delta. And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and save lives from Omicron," he added.
Meanwhile, the United States has confirmed its first case of Omicron variant in a traveller who has recently returned from South Africa. Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said the traveller, who returned from South Africa on November 22, was fully vaccinated against Covid and all his contacts have tested negative.
"We feel good that this patient not only had mild symptoms but actually the symptoms appear to be improving," Fauci said.
Russia said Tuesday that 265 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered after staging a last stand at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, prompting Kyiv to call for a prisoner exchange. "Over the past 24 hours, 265 militants laid down their arms and surrendered, including 51 heavily wounded," the Russian defence ministry said. Lawmakers in Finland -- which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia -- voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining the NATO military alliance.
President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland at the White House for a meeting Thursday amid their push to join NATO in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The White House said they would discuss the two countries' applications to join the mutual defense alliance, as well as European security broadly.
The cost-of-living squeeze in Britain has led to two in three people in the country turning off their heating, almost half are driving less or changing supermarkets and just over a quarter say they have skipped meals, a survey showed. Among people on lower incomes, one in three people say they have missed meals recently because of the surge in inflation, polling firm Ipsos said on Tuesday.
India's missions in Canada are enhancing their outreach to students from India as their numbers balloon along with a spate of incidents, including accidents, suicides, even murders. The latest such tragedy was reported on Sunday, when Peel Regional Police found the body of 20-year-old Navkiran Singh from Moga district in Punjab drowned in the Credit Valley River in Brampton in the Greater Toronto Area. No cause has yet been attributed for the death.
A no-confidence motion tabled by the Opposition against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was defeated in Parliament on Tuesday, media reports said. The motion by Opposition Tamil National Alliance MP M A Sumanthiran to suspend Parliament's standing orders in order to debate an expression of displeasure over President Rajapaksa was defeated with 119 MPs voting against it, the Economy Next newspaper reported. Only 68 MPs voted in favour of the motion, it said.