Countries tighten restrictions as new cases of Omicron variant emerge

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Japan on Wednesday imposed a one-month suspension on all new incoming flight bookings in a bid to prevent the fast-spreading Omicron variant from taking a hold in the country, while Germany reported that four people who have tested positive of the new strain were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Passengers wait in a line to receive PCR test kit at quarantine counter of the airport on their arrivals at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, western Japan on November 30, 2021. Passengers wait in a line to receive PCR test kit at quarantine counter of the airport on their arrivals at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, western Japan on November 30, 2021. © Yukie Nishizawa, Kyodo News via AP

12:10 pm Paris time: Portugal steps up Covid-19 restrictions

Portugal on Wednesday tightened its passenger controls in airports, seaports and land borders, by requiring negative coronavirus tests for most incoming visitors in a bid to shield itself from the Omicron variant. It also reintroduced mandatory face mask measures in enclosed spaces and a requirement for people to show proof of coronavirus vaccinations or Covid-19 recovery tests to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and hotels.

11:58 am Paris time: Denmark says person infected with Omicron attended large concert

A person who has tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant in Denmark attended a large concert over the weekend, health officials said Wednesday.

The concert was held in the city of Aalborg and was attended by almost 2,000 people.

According to Danish broadcaster DR, everyone who attended the concert has now been urged to get tested.

It was not immediately clear whether the concert-goer was one of the four Omicron cases that Denmark has already confirmed, or whether it was a new case.

11:50 am Paris time: Norway reports its first Omicron cases

Norway has identified its first two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, the Oeygarden municipality said in a statement, adding that both of the people infected had been on a trip to South Africa.

Norway on Friday decided to impose a quarantine on any travellers arriving from South Africa or neighbouring countries, following a similar decision by neighbouring Denmark and many other countries around the world.

11:00 am Paris time: Germany reports highest Covid-19 death toll in nine months

Germany on Wednesday reported 446 Covid-19 related deaths – the highest daily figure since mid-February – bringing the country’s total death toll to 101,790.

Gernot Marx, president of the DIVI association for intensive care medicine, warned that the country could still have 6,000 people in intensive care by Christmas, which would be above the peak of last winter.

“The situation is really becoming increasingly tight,” Marx told ZDF television, calling for the government to consider a temporary lockdown. “We need to save the clinics from collapse.”

09:45 am Paris time: ‘Rapid increase in coronavirus cases in South Africa’

Since South Africa detected the new Omicron variant last week, the number of new Covid-19 cases in the country has surged. In some areas, hospitalisations have as much as tripled in the past few days.

In the video below, FRANCE 24’s South Africa correspondent Nadine Theron reports on the latest developments.

‘Rapid increase in coronavirus cases’


09:10 am Paris time: Nigeria confirms first Omicron cases

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, confirmed its first cases of the new Covid-19 variant on Wednesday, among three passengers who had arrived from South Africa.

“Omicron is widespread globally… Therefore, it is a matter of when, not if, we will identify more cases,” Ifedayo Adetifa, the head of Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control, said.

Nigeria is home to around 210 million people and has launched vaccination campaigns but vaccination rates remain low, with just over 6.5 million people given one shot and about 3.5 million people two shots.

08:40 am Paris time: Germany says four Omicron cases detected among vaccinated people

Four people in southern Germany have tested positive for the Omicron variant even though they were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Three of the infected people returned from a business trip to South Africa on November 26 and November 27 respectively, and the fourth person is a family member of one of the returnees, the public health office in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said, adding that all four had showed moderate symptoms and were in quarantine.

08:30 am Paris time: Japan halts new incoming flight bookings

Japan’s transport ministry said it has asked airlines to stop taking new incoming flight bookings for one month as of December 1 over Omicron concerns. Existing bookings will not be affected by the suspension.

Japan has so far reported two confirmed cases of Omicron. Earlier this week it tightened its border measures, banning entry of all non-citizens coming from 10 southern African nations.