World races to contain new COVID threat, Israel warns of ‘emergency’
(AP) — Nearly two years into the pandemic, the world is suddenly racing to contain a new coronavirus variant potentially more dangerous than the one that has fueled relentless waves of infection on every continent.
A World Health Organization panel has named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern. That’s the same category that includes the predominant one, delta, still a scourge driving higher cases of sickness and death in Europe and parts of the United States.
Much of the world is instituting travel bans on visitors from southern Africa. That’s where the new variant was discovered.
Meantime, Israel’s prime minister says the country is “on the threshold of an emergency situation” after authorities detected its first case of the new variant in a traveler who returned from Malawi.
The Health Ministry says the traveler and two other suspected cases, all of whom were vaccinated, have been placed in isolation.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says the new strain is more contagious than the delta variant. Israel has barred travel to sub-Saharan Africa.
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