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New virus variant casts pall, shocks experts in South Africa

Virus Outbreak South Africa New Variant
Posted at 10:37 AM, Nov 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-28 10:37:20-05

PRETORIA, South Africa — The overcast, drizzly skies match the somber mood at the Tshwane University of Technology, a hot spot in South Africa’s latest surge of COVID-19 cases, apparently driven by the new omicron variant.

The world is racing to contain that variant. It was first identified in southern Africa but is popping up around the globe.

The variant's risks are not yet understood. Early evidence suggests it poses an increased risk that people who have already had COVID-19 could catch it again.

It could take weeks to know if current vaccines are less effective against it. Still, some experts are hopeful that vaccines will be at least somewhat effective and continue to encourage people to get inoculated.

Dutch, Australians find omicron variant; others curb travel

The Netherlands has confirmed 13 cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus and Australia has found two as the countries half a world apart became the latest to detect it in travelers arriving from southern Africa.

Israel decided Sunday to bar entry to foreigners and Morocco said it would suspend all incoming air travel from around the world for two weeks starting Monday.

Those were the most drastic of a growing raft of travel curbs being imposed by nations around the world as they scramble to slow the variant’s spread.

Confirmed or suspected cases of the new variant already emerged in several European countries, in Israel and in Hong Kong, days after it was identified by researchers in South Africa.

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Mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Richmond Raceway.

Virginians age 5+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?

People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
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What you can and should not do once you have been fully vaccinated.

How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.

These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.

Click here for more information from the Virginia Department of Health.