Hong Kong confirms third Omicron variant case

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Hong Kong Monday confirmed its third Omicron coronavirus variant case.

Hong Kong officials said that all three infections have been successfully contained.

The third Omicron case is related to a 37-year-old man who arrived in Hong Kong from Nigeria Wednesday. He was confirmed with the virus Sunday.

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The variant was identified days ago by researchers in South Africa. Several nations took steps to control the spread of the virus.

While Israel barred entry to foreigners, Morocco suspended all incoming flights for two weeks from Monday. The Netherlands Sunday reported 13 omicron cases while Australia had two patients.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization called for frontiers to remain open.

The WHO, in a statement, said that  it “stands with African nations” and noting that travel restrictions may play “a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.” It said if restrictions are put in place, they should be scientifically based and not intrusive.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, was quoted as saying: “I do think it’s more contagious when you look at how rapidly it spread through multiple districts in South Africa. It has the earmarks therefore of being particularly likely to spread from one person to another. … What we don’t know is whether it can compete with delta.”

“I know, America, you’re really tired about hearing those things, but the virus is not tired of us,” Collins said.

“Restrictions on the country’s borders is not an easy step, but it’s a temporary and necessary step,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.

The U.S. had already announced its plans to ban travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries from Monday.

South Africa’s government responded angrily to the travel bans, which it said are “akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker.” It said it will try to persuade countries that imposed them to reconsider.

The U.K. Saturday tightened rules on mask-wearing and on testing of international arrivals after finding two omicron cases.

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