Speed Reads

It's spreading

Omicron strain reaches U.K., Germany, Italy, Czechia, and more

The new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, labeled a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization (WHO), has reached the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Czech Republic, the New York Post reports.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid said that there are two confirmed cases in the U.K., one in Chelmsford and one in Nottingham. Both individuals had recently returned from traveling in southern Africa, and both have been instructed to quarantine along with the rest of their households. Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded by announcing tighter restrictions on people entering the country and new mask mandates for certain activities, Reuters reports.

German public health officials detected Omicron-mutations in a traveler returning from South Africa to the German state of Hesse. Two additional cases were confirmed in the German state of Bavaria.

Italy's National Health Institute confirmed a person returning from Mozambique to Milan has tested positive for Omicron. In Czechia, labs are still working to ascertain whether an individual who tested positive after spending time in Namibia is infected with the Omicron variant.

The U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and many other nations, as well as the European Union, have announced restrictions on travelers coming from southern African countries.