US lays out strategy to fight the coronavirus, including booster jabs, free home testing, and new requirements for international travellers.
US President Joe Biden has unveiled new measures to combat COVID-19, saying the emergence of the Omicron variant increases the urgency for booster vaccines. Biden’s plan includes tighter restrictions for international travellers, and expanding access to at-home testing
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that people who are not vaccinated will be excluded from non-essential shops, cultural and recreational venues, and parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate that would come into force from February.
Also on Thursday, India, Finland and Norway became the latest countries to report cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant as regulators in the United Kingdom gave the green light for the use of a monoclonal therapy, called Sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The news came as South Korea’s daily coronavirus case numbers rose to a new high with authorities halting quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travellers for two weeks in a bid to fend off the new variant.
In South Africa, where scientists detected the Omicron variant last week, new infections doubled in a day signalling a dramatic surge in the country.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representative, called for “vigilance” against the Omicron COVID-19 variant and urged people to get vaccinated and receive their booster shot, echoing President Joe Biden’s remarks on Thursday.
“We must be vigilant. We urge everyone to be vaccinated. The person who incurred the Omicron in South Africa was vaccinated, but he didn’t have the booster,” she said, referring to the first US Omicron case in California. “And so, if your time is six months since your last shot, we encourage the booster.”
Health officials in the US state of Colorado have identified a case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in a woman who recently travelled to southern Africa, local media reported on Thursday.