New COVID variant, Omicron, gaining strength

Just days after being discovered in South Africa, the new variant has popped up in more European countries as well as Israel. It's hoped that current vaccines are effective against the Omicron strain.

By

World News

November 28, 2021 - 7:50 AM

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that the United Kingdom will reinstate mask mandates for those using public transportation or visiting shops, as well as encourage booster shots. (Toby Melville/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

LONDON (AP) — The new potentially more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in more European countries on Saturday, just days after being identified in South Africa, leaving governments around the world scrambling to stop the spread.

The U.K. on Saturday tightened its rules on mask-wearing and on testing of international arrivals after finding two cases. New cases were confirmed Saturday in Germany and Italy, with Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong also reporting that the variant has been found in travelers.

In the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, said he would not be surprised if the omicron variant was already in the United States, too.

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