The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has now been detected in countries from the U.S. to South Korea, underscoring the difficulties of curtailing contagious new strains.
Most infections stem from travelers carrying the disease across borders. Israel, for instance, said a confirmed case who arrived from Malawi rode on a bus from Tel Aviv. Italy’s first case traveled around the country for days before testing positive. The first omicron case was confirmed in the U.S. in a person who returned from South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Researchers worldwide are racing to understand the full impact of the new strain, and governments have banned travelers from South Africa and nearby countries on concerns omicron could evade the protection of vaccines and fuel new surges.
Here’s how far omicron has reached:
South Africa: Early PCR test samples showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases reported midweek in the province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the variant. The daily number of new confirmed cases almost doubled to 8,561 infections, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Botswana: At least 19 cases detected
U.K.: Five cases, the two latest cases are not connected to each other and not related to the previous three confirmed infections linked to travel in South Africa
Germany: Two cases in travelers who arrived at Munich airport from South Africa, AFP reported, citing regional officials.
Netherlands: 13 cases detected among travelers from South Africa
Denmark: Two cases in arrivals from South Africa
Belgium: One case
Israel: One confirmed case and other suspected ones, as of Nov. 27.
Italy: One case who moved around the country before testing positive
Czech Republic: One case, according to local media
Austria: One confirmed case in Tyrol for person arriving from South Africa. Authorities reviewing another 30 suspected cases
Switzerland: Three cases. People are in isolation
France: Thirteen suspected cases, according to a government spokesman
Portugal: Preliminary tests of 13 cases “strongly” suggests they’re all related to the omicron variant. One of the cases involves a person who had a recent trip to South Africa.
Spain: One case, according to Madrid’s health ministry
Sweden: One case, according to the country’s Public Health Agency
Hong Kong SAR: Four imported cases confirmed, two of them related to South Africa and the others to Nigeria
Australia: Six cases in New South Wales state. The sixth case was a fully vaccinated traveller who had recently visited southern Africa, according to NSW Health
Japan: One confirmed patient, who returned from Namibia. A second case was recorded in a person arriving from Peru
Canada: Five cases, including a first case in Quebec who had traveled from Nigeria, according to Reuters, citing Ottawa Public Health
Brazil: Two cases. Spotted in samples from a married couple who had recently arrived from South Africa
Norway: Two cases confirmed in the Oygarden municipality. Both people had been traveling in South Africa
Ireland: One case confirmed in a person who traveled to a risk area
U.S.: One case detected in California in a traveler who returned from South Africa and was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC
South Korea: Five cases confirmed, including a couple who returned from Nigeria and their contacts
U.A.E.: One case confirmed
Saudi Arabia: One case confirmed