Omicron variant earns the Southern Africa region a travel ban following Fauci's meeting with them. Here's what we know


The United State slapped the Southern Africa region with a travel ban on Friday, following a meeting between Dr. Anthony Fauci and his team with the South African Health Ministry pertaining to the Omicron variant. Here's a recap of everything:
Chief Medical Advisor to the President of United States Dr. Anthony Fauci.GHIV-VE / Flickr

Doctor Anthony Fauci and the United States public health officials were deliberating in lengthy meetings on Friday with South Africa pertaining to the newly discovered Covid-19 variant, the Friday Briefing confirmed.

The two nations hoped the meeting would help them understand the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus and table a way forward on any danger that it imposes.

Dr. Fauci also confirmed this meeting prior to it taking place, saying that the U.S. officials had arranged a discussion between the U.S. scientists and South African scientists.

He added:

We want to find out, scientist-to-scientist, exactly what is going on. Right now, you're talking about sort of a red flag that this might be an issue, but we don't know"

This meeting will basically comprise of South Africa providing the U.S. with more data, which would help Dr. Fauci decide a way forward.

The U.S. was the only first major world nation that was yet to ban traveling to and from South Africans, until Dr. Fauci and South African officials agreed on this.

The decision to ban travel from and to South Africa began late Thursday afternoon after the nation announced their discovery of the new variant.

More countries continued to impose travel bans on South Africa throughout Friday, leaving other countries that are yet to do this in a state of panic.

Here's what we know about the Omicron variant?

The B.1.1.529 variant is now known as Omicron, and the name came after the World Health Organization assigned it a Greek letter on Friday.

It was first detected in South Africa according to the South African media, but experts cannot say if it originated there, as it also happened in Botswana.

One traveler from Japan who came from South Africa was found to have it too, after collaborative efforts with the nations at hand.

The Omicron variant has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein – the part of the virus that latches onto human cells and which most vaccines target, according to South Africa's bioinformatician and the director of KRISP, Professor Tulio De Oliveira.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, there have been 22 cases detected in the country by Thursday evening.

The variant has a large number of mutations in its spike protein, which may enable it to transmit easily from person to person.

As such, it is impossible to tell how bad or worse the number of infections will become in the coming week or two.

South Africa's has been commended by the World Health Organization for having excellent gene sequencing capabilities, meaning that they are constantly on the lookout for new mutations.

One more thing that is commendable about South Africa is that they were able to alert the entire world and not conceal any information after only picking 22 cases.

This is not something that was done by the nation of China in early 2020, and this means that measures can be implemented early to help mitigate the spread of the Omicron variant.

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