Omicron variant: Asia closes its doors in the face of the threat

A notice on Covid-19 security measures next to closed doors in a departure hall at Narita International Airport on the first day of border closures, east of Tokyo, November 30, 2021. © REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

How Does Omicron Affect Covid-19 Vaccines?

The team that was able to isolate the new variant in Hong Kong believes this Wednesday, December 1 that the mutant virus could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

An announcement that comes in a context of relocking borders in the region.

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With our correspondent in Beijing,

Stéphane Lagarde 

Of Omicron's 50 mutations, 32 are breakthrough proteins: those that vaccines target to strengthen our immunity against disease.

For

researchers

at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the effectiveness of vaccines against Covid-19 should therefore decrease, without it being possible to say for the moment what the level of this drop in protection will be.

Dr. To Kwai-Wang's team is the first in Asia to have been able to isolate the variant.

Further tests will be necessary to estimate the transmission strength of the mutant.

But governments are already taking the lead.

Hong Kong

has announced stricter entry requirements for travelers from nine countries including Japan, Portugal and Sweden which have reported cases of the new variant.

After the entry ban for new visitors on Tuesday, November 30,

Japan

indicates that it will also refuse the return of foreign nationals resident in the country if they arrive from South Africa and a dozen African countries.

► To read also: Variant Omicron: Japan closes its borders to foreign visitors

Mandatory quarantine, vaccinated or not

The

South Korean

neighbor also considering giving a turn of the screw at the borders.

If the number of Omicron ailments increases in the country, then it will be necessary to make "

 big adjustments

 " to the prevention measures, said on Wednesday one of the communication officials of the presidential palace in Seoul.

All travelers arriving in South Korea in the next two weeks will be required to go through a mandatory ten-day quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status.

A measure announced following the confirmation of five cases of Omicron contamination in the country.

► See also: Covid-19 in South Korea: unprecedented increase in cases

In the People's Republic of China, the borders have been very filtered, not to say closed, since the start of the pandemic.

Health authorities are reporting 91 new cases of contamination for the day of Tuesday, especially in the province of Inner Mongolia, the highest figure since the beginning of the month.

The appearance of the new variant therefore only reinforces epidemiologists in their conviction that only the so-called “ 

zero Covid

 ”

strategy

makes it possible to slow the appearance of new sources of contamination.  

As for Thailand,

Bangkok

announced on Wednesday adjustments for the reception conditions of travelers.

Foreign passengers from eight countries are now prohibited from entering Thailand.

► See also: China: the Omicron variant complicates the organization of the Winter Olympics

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  • China

  • South Korea

  • Thailand

  • Coronavirus

  • Vaccines

  • Japan

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