Live: World responds to Omicron variant with fresh round of Covid restrictions

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Fears over the impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus rose on Thursday after the first case was reported in the US and Japan’s central bank warned of economic pain as countries respond with tighter containment measures.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa last week, and has since spread to dozens of countries worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the new strain poses a “very high” global risk, and has urged governments to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups. France announced yesterday that a negative Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all travellers arriving from outside the EU.

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08:50 Paris time: UK approves Covid-19 treatment

British regulators on Thursday approved GlaxoSmithKline drug sotrovimab to treat those at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms, with the manufacturer saying it “retains activity” against the new Omicron variant. 

The monoclonal antibody “was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease,” said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

08:00 Paris time: South Korea will require vaccinated travellers to quarantine

In the latest restrictions, South Korea on Thursday halted quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travellers for two weeks as daily coronavirus case numbers rose to a new high. South Korea confirmed its first five cases of the Omicron variant on Wednesday.