South Africa says it's being "punished" for detecting new COVID variant
South Africa said Saturday it's being "punished" for detecting the new Omicron coronavirus variant as more countries rush to enact travel bans and restrictions.
Driving the news: The U.S. imposed air travel restrictions from eight countries Friday in response to the Omicron variant. Countries in Europe and Asia have also implemented their own travel restrictions in response to Omicron.
- The United Kingdom announced Saturday that two cases of the new variant were detected in the country with a "link to travel to Southern Africa."
- The variant has also been found in Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.
The big picture: South Africa, which has some of the world's top epidemiologists and scientists, detected the variant early on in its life cycle, Reuters reports.
- The variant, known formally as B.1.1.529, was first reported to the World Health Organization on Nov. 24, which then designated it a "variant of concern" on Friday.
- Early evidence suggests "an increased risk of reinfection with this variant compared to other" variants of concern, the WHO added.