In parts of the United States, health officials have also seen a steady rise in the number of Omicron cases. The variant has been detected in at least 16 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Some Americans, too, are getting more nervous.
“We’re paying more attention, which we probably haven’t been in a while,” said Rory Bakke, who lives in Marin County, Calif. “This has increased our attention to symptom reports and their contagiousness and science reports.”
Ms Bakke expressed her frustration at the latest threat.
“I feel like if everyone had just followed the guidelines, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” she said. “So it’s disheartening. “
The Omicron variant was first identified in southern Africa at the end of November. Zambia on Saturday became the last African country – along with South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria and Ghana – to report cases.
Since its emergence, a number of travel restrictions have been imposed in an attempt to slow its spread, particularly in the United States and Europe.
Still, some European governments have been hesitant to impose sweeping new national restrictions ahead of a much anticipated period of travel and large gatherings, especially given the lockdown across much of Europe last winter. Many have instead chosen to focus on restricting travel from abroad or requiring more testing for travelers.