Live: EU to step up anti-Covid vaccination campaign for children

The Omicron variant of Covid-19, first detected in South Africa, continues to cause concern in the international community. In Europe, the delivery of vaccine doses to children has been advanced. The United States announces that it will tighten its conditions of entry into the territory and Japan suspends all new air reservations to the country for a month.

Officially reported in South Africa on November 24, this highly contagious new variant is said to have actually started to spread around the world several days earlier. Dutch health authorities announced on Tuesday that Omicron was already circulating in the Netherlands on November 19. From Africa to the Pacific, from Canada to Italy, via Germany and the United Kingdom, the new variant of Covid-19 has already had time to go around the world.

Many countries have already taken restrictive measures to stem the spread of Omicron. While scientific research continues to learn more about the dangerousness of the variant and its possible resistance to current vaccines,  the WHO continues to call not to close borders .

  • 1 p.m .: vaccine for children available in the EU on December 13

Production of the children’s version of Pfizer / BioNTech’s Covid vaccine will ramp up and doses will be available in the EU on December 13, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. This Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children aged 5 to 11 has been brought forward by one week.

  • 11 a.m .: a first case of the Omicron variant in the Gulf

A first confirmed case of Omicron has been detected in Saudi Arabia, in a Saudi citizen returning from a country in North Africa. The infected person and those with whom they came into contact have been isolated, according to an official at the Ministry of Health.

  • 10 am: South Africa “serene” in the face of a new wave

With 4,300 new cases of Covid-19 patients per day, but only 15 cases of the Omicron variant confirmed in Cape Province, South Africa is “serene” in the face of the emergence of a new wave of coronavirus. “The numbers of hospitalizations are increasing, but by little for the moment”, underlines Caroline Dumay, the correspondent of France 24 in Cape Town.

  • 9 a.m .: three cases of the Omicron variant detected in Nigeria

Analyzes confirmed the presence of three cases of the Omicron variant in the most populous country in Africa. The three people who tested positive had arrived in the country last week and “had previously traveled to South Africa,” the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said. Travelers were asked to test two days after their arrival.

  • 8:20 a.m .: suspension of air reservations to Japan

Japan has asked airlines to suspend all new bookings to its territory from December 1, for a period of one month, amid fears about the Omicron variant, the Japanese transport ministry said. Existing reservations are not affected.

The new restrictions come as a second case of the Omicron variant was confirmed in the Archipelago on Wednesday. The Japanese government said it was a traveler who arrived from Peru last week.

Japan had already announced Monday the closure of its borders to all foreign visitors.

  • 8 am: France extends the suspension of flights from 7 African countries

Flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi are still suspended to France. Paris announced an extension of this suspension until Saturday to counter the risk of an acceleration in the spread of the Omicron variant.

“An extremely strengthened protocol” is being studied with the European partners, specified the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune. “We will undoubtedly go even further to demand tests, including for people who have been vaccinated,” he said.

  • 6:30 a.m .: US to toughen entry requirements

The United States will require all travelers entering its territory by air to present a negative test for Covid-19 carried out 24 hours before their departure, because of fears raised by the new variant of the coronavirus, have the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late Tuesday.

Currently, international travelers who have been vaccinated may have a negative coronavirus test performed within three days of departure. This new measure would apply to both US citizens and foreign nationals.

The administration is also considering requiring travelers to take another drug test within three to five days of arriving in the United States, officials said. The new rules could be announced on Thursday, but it was not specified when they could come into force.

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