Friday’s declaration of an emergency by the Governor of New York was made because COVID transmission has reached rates that have not been seen since April 2020. The governor also warns that the disturbing new COVID variant that appeared first in Botswana could be ‘coming.

To prevent Omicron from entering the United States, U.S. officials banned travel from 8 African countries earlier in the week.

Kathy Hochul, Empire State Governor, stated that non-urgent procedures can be delayed beginning December 3, if there is a danger to the hospital’s ability.

She ruled that if a hospital has less than 10% of its’staff bed capacity, it can cancel elective or non-urgent procedures.

Also, she declared a disaster emergency and noted that COVID transmissions are at an all-time high. This declaration gives her broad powers to act on emergency situations without the need for approval from the state legislature.

Hochul posted that despite the fact that there are still warning signs about spikes in COVID, Omicron is coming to New York State. 

Governor of New York Kathy Hochul warned Friday that Omicron was coming, tweeting “It’s Coming” An executive order was issued by her allowing hospitals with dangerously low bed capacities to cancel elective procedures

President Joe Biden on Friday banned travel from eight African countries - shaded red in the map. South Africa is the only one to have direct flights to the United States, with 13 a week. Now citizens of the eight countries, or anyone who has been there recently, are unable to enter the US

On Friday, President Joe Biden banned travel from eight African nations – marked red on the map. South Africa has the most direct flights from South Africa to the United States with just 13 per week. Citizens of these eight countries and anyone from the region who was there in the recent past cannot enter the US.

A nurse operates a ventilator for a patient with COVID-19 who went into cardiac arrest and was revived by staff at a hospital in Yonkers in April 2020. COVID transmission is now as high as it was then, the NY governor said on Friday

Nurse operates the ventilator of a COVID-19 patient who suffered cardiac arrest. The nurse was revived in Yonkers by hospital staff in April 2020. According to Friday’s NY Governor, COVID transmission has risen as much as it ever was.

Hours earlier, President Joe Biden confirmed that travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region – Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi – had been halted. 

It was initially discovered in Botswana. Since then, it has moved to South Africa. Six provinces are experiencing rapid growth.

You can also find it in Israel, Hong Kong and Belgium. 

Hochul declares a state of emergency in recognition that the state faces serious challenges – before Omicron could hit.

According to the declaration, ‘A catastrophe has struck New York State. The affected local governments cannot respond appropriately’.

“New York now has COVID-19 transmission rates that are higher than any State since April 2020.

“The new COVID-19 hospital admits rate has increased to 300 per day over the past month.”

She can then acquire supplies for pandemics and create an emergency hospital plan. 

Andrew Cuomo was Hochul’s predecessor and had already declared a natural disaster on March 7, 2020.

This arrangement ran from June 24-26 of 2005 to its end amid controversy. Cuomo’s opponents claimed that he used emergency powers to consolidate himself and then rule an autoritarian manner, bypassing the legislature.

Cuomo stated at that time that the decree might be lifted due to progress in fighting the pandemic. 

He stated that New York had made dramatic strides against COVID-19 and has seen a decline in hospitalizations and positive outcomes statewide. The state of emergency would end. 

Hochul warned Friday about the worrying data and asked New Yorkers for vaccinations. Hochul noted that less than 10% of New Yorkers have yet received their first shot.

She stated that the vaccine is still one of the most powerful weapons we have in combating the pandemic. 

Biden declared Friday that South Africa and Botswana will no longer be allowed to travel to Namibia, Lesotho (Eswatini), Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia or Lesotho), as well as Lesotho, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini. 

U.S. citizens, green card holders and U.S. nationals will continue to be permitted to enter the U.S.A from those countries but not anyone else. 

Biden made the announcement on Friday after Dr. Anthony Fauci (his top COVID expert) said that it was too early to implement such measures. 

The World Health Organization (WHO), which officially classified the strain as a threat, named Friday’s variant. 

President Biden spoke with reporters today outside The Nantucket Tap Room where he said he decided on the ban out of an abundance of caution. He is Nantucket celebrating Thanksgiving with his family

Biden spoke to journalists today at The Nantucket Tap Room. Biden said that the ban was a decision he had made out of caution. Biden is in Nantucket to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family


My chief medical advisor Dr. Tony Fauci and our COVID team gave me a detailed overview about Omicron, the variant that is spreading across Southern Africa. In order to be more cautious, I have placed additional travel restrictions for South Africa and seven countries. The new restrictions take effect November 29. Moving forward, I will be guided by the scientific consensus and advice from my medical team.

Here are two messages that I want to send out: one for America and one for the global community.

First, for those Americans who are fully vaccinated against severe COVID illness – fortunately, for the vast majority of our adults — the best way to strengthen your protection is to get a booster shot, as soon as you are eligible. Adults over 18 years old can receive booster shots, which are accepted at more than 80,000 locations across the country. These are easy, convenient and safe. So you are protected during holiday season, get your booster shot today.

A second option is to get vaccinated if you aren’t fully up-to-date. Both children and adults can get vaccinated. America is leading the world in vaccinating children ages 5-11, and has been vaccinating teens for many months now – but we need more Americans in all age groups to get this life-saving protection. Now is the best time to get your child vaccinated.

For the global community, the announcement about the new variant of the pandemic should be clearer than ever that we need to have universal vaccinations. Already, the United States has donated more vaccines than any other country. It is time for other countries to match America’s speed and generosity.

Furthermore, I appeal to the Nations gathering for next week’s World Trade Organization ministerial to consider the U.S. request to remove intellectual property protections from COVID vaccines in order to allow these vaccines to be produced globally. This position was supported by me in April. Today’s news reinforces how important it is to move quickly.  

Biden spoke outside Nantucket Tap Room, where he had lunch Friday afternoon. He told reporters that he had spoken for about half an hour with his team on Friday and that the ban was the outcome of that conversation. 

“We are not aware of the variant, but it’s a concern that seems to be spreading rapidly. With my covert group led by Dr. [Anthony]Fauci and so we made that decision,’ he added.

Although the U.K. has already stopped flights, as have some European countries’, Biden stated that he did not impose any restrictions until medical professionals advised him otherwise. 

He reiterated that everyone should get immunized and get booster shots as soon possible. 

He stated that every American who hasn’t been vaccinated should do so from the age of five to one. 

“Number 2: Everyone who is eligible to receive the booster shot should immediately get it. It is the minimum requirement that all should follow. 

“And, you know what? We always discuss whether freedom is involved and I believe it’s a patriotic obligation.

40% of Americans are still unvaccinated. 

Moderna and Pfizer have both confirmed that they are able to improve their vaccine technology in order to combat Omicron if necessary. 

Stock market panic over the new version has been quick and sent chills through the markets: Dow fell by 1,000 points Friday. 

The drop in stocks was expected, but President Biden stated that it isn’t worrying about the market.   

We will soon announce additional details about the new restrictions that will apply to non-US citizens as well as green card holders.    

To monitor the situation, Biden’s administration also keeps in touch with African officials. 

Senior administration officials stated, “We keep in touch with South African health officials. We work closely with them to get more information.”

The new COVID variant has been discovered, and scientists are concerned that it could prove to be the most infective strain of the virus. 

Earlier Friday morning, White House COVID tsar Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the U.S. had no immediate plans to restrict travel from South Africa until officials can study the variant more – despite the U.K., Israel and European countries doing so. 

Unvaccinated persons are not yet aware of the dangers of the new variant. American health authorities have yet to issue any warnings. There are however concerns about its potential transmission and possible ineffectiveness.

South African officials in health are working to calm panicked countries. They have termed the situation a “storm in a teacup” 

“It appears to be growing at an incredibly rapid pace,” Fauci said. Fauci stated that they are learning more.

He stated that while there’s no evidence that the mutation occurs in the U.S. he believes it to be possible. 

‘When you look at a mutation it can give you a hint or prediction that it might evade the immune response you need to get that sequence of the virus, put it in the lab and test the antibodies.

“Right now we are putting the material together so that you can test it directly. 

It’s obvious that this might indicate an issue, but it is not something you can do. 

‘Once you test it, you know for sure whether it does or does not evade the antibodies, for example, that we make for a vaccine.

“The truth is that we do not know at the moment, but we are going to discover.” 

Omicron: Why are they so terrifying?

 Why is this so troubling?

It is said to be the worst variant of the genome they’ve ever seen and experts are concerned by its many mutations.

The variant — which the World Health Organization has named Omicron — has 32 mutations on the spike protein — the most ever recorded and twice as many as the currently dominant Delta strain. 

Experts worry that vaccines may be 40 percent less effective under the worst-case scenario.

It is due to the fact that so many changes in B.1.1.529 depend on spike protein.

Current vaccines cause the body’s recognition of older strains of the virus.

The Botswana variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein. The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognize the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body's immune system struggles to recognize it and fight it off. And three of the spike mutations (H665Y, N679K, P681H) help it enter the body's cells more easily. Meanwhile, it is missing a membrane protein (NSP6) which was seen in earlier iterations of the virus, which experts think could make it more infectious. And it has two mutations (R203K and G204R) that have been present in all variants of concern so far and have been linked with infectiousness

Botswana has approximately 50 variants. More than 30 mutations are on spike protein. The body recognizes the older version of the virus’ spike protein with the current vaccines. However, the changes may change the appearance of the spike protein so that the body’s immune systems is unable to fight off the virus. Three of its spike mutations, H665Y and N679K (P681H), allow it to enter cells faster. It is also missing NSP6, a membrane protein that was present in older iterations. Experts think this could make the virus more dangerous. Two mutations (R203K, G204R) have been identified in the virus. These two mutations have been found in all known variants and are associated with infectiousness. 

However, because of the different appearance of the spike protein on this new strain, your immune system might struggle to recognize it and defeat it.

You can also find mutations on the Delta version that make it more spreadable.

Experts caution that they may not discover how infective the virus really is for two to three weeks. 

How many mutations is the variant susceptible to? 

Botswana has over 50 mutations, with more than 30 on the spike protein.

The mutations N679K and P681H are rarely found together and may make the organism more resistant to jabs.

This mutation, together with H655Y may make it more difficult for viruses to enter the cells.

N501Y, a mutation that may increase the transmissibility of the strain, was first seen in Beta and Kent’s Alpha variants.

R203K and G204R are two other possible mutations that could make this virus more dangerous. However, a missing mutation from the NSP6 variant could lead to an increase in its transmission.  

Additionally, it has mutations K417N & E484A similar to South African variants of the ‘Beta’ variety. These made it easier to resist vaccines.

But it also has the N440K, found on Delta, and S477N, on the New York variant — which was linked with a surge of cases in the state in March — that has been linked to antibody escape. 

It also has Q478K and Q496S mutations. However, their significance is still not clear. 

Do you think it is a concern variant?

The World Health Organization has classified the virus as a ‘variant of concern’, the label given to the highest-risk strains.

Experts at WHO have determined that its mutations can spread more quickly, cause severe illnesses and hinder vaccine protection.

Is the variant known? 

This variant was spotted so far in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong as well as Israel, Israel, and Belgium. 

The majority of cases were found in Gauteng in North East South Africa, where Johannesburg is located.

Hong Kong uploaded the initial case to GISAID, an international variant databank. The first was found by someone who traveled from South Africa to find it.

In the UK, no cases of Covid have been reported. However, scientists don’t sequence all positive Covid samples in the UK. Not everyone who gets the virus will be tested.

It is possible that there are people living with this variant in Britain.

What can the UK do about this variant?

Six countries were added to the red-list by Health Secretary last night, starting at noon on Friday 26 November.

Red-listed countries include South Africa, Botswana Eswatini Lesotho Namibia, Botswana and Botswana. These countries are prohibited from flying direct to the UK.

Anyone arriving in England between midday today and 4am on Sunday from these countries — or who has been in the countries in the 10 previous days — must complete a passenger locator form, quarantine at home and should take a PCR test.

Arriving from these countries on Sunday after 4am, anyone must remain in managed quarantine hotels for 10 nights and submit to a Covid testing on the first or second days of their stay.

The UK Health Security Agency also classified B.1.1.529 a Variant Under Investigation. This means that it contains worrying mutations.

If it proves to be more dangerous, more serious or to make medicines and vaccines less effective, experts will conduct an assessment. 

Is this where B.1.1.529 was first discovered?

On November 23, Hong Kong uploaded the first case to GISAID’s international variant database GISAID. This person was travelling from South Africa to obtain the variant.

The UK was first to recognize that this virus might be dangerous and alerted all other countries. 

Since then, there have been 77 confirmed cases in South Africa, 2 in Hong Kong, and 3 in Botswana.

Today, Israeli health chiefs announced that they had two confirmed cases and one suspected case of B.1.1.529 in Israel. In Belgium, there are currently two cases.

Experts think the strain could have been originated in Botswana. However, there are not many positive samples from continental Africa so we may never know where it came from.

Francois Balloux is a University College London geneticist who told MailOnline that the virus probably emerged as a lingering infected patient with immunocompromised, or undiagnosed AIDS.

Patients with weak immune systems can have infections that last for several months. This is because their bodies are unable to combat it. This allows the virus to evolve mutations which allow it to bypass the body’s defenses.

Can I feel protected by a booster?

Scientists warn that the new strain of Covid could render vaccines 40% less effective.

They said that the emergence of the mutant version makes it more crucial to obtain a booster shot as soon as people are eligible.

Neutralizing antibodies are produced by vaccines, and they provide the most protection against new viruses. Experts agree that the greater the number of antibodies, the better.

Britain’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: ‘The booster jab was already important before we knew about this variant – but now, it could not be more important.’ 

We will soon learn more about the variant.

Weeks remain before we have data about how transmissible this variant is, and the impact it has on hospitalizations or deaths.

South Africa is the most affected country in South Africa’s cases. The UK offered to help them gather information. They believe that they can learn more about transmissibility within two or three weeks.

They may not know the details of hospitalizations or deaths for at least four to six more weeks.

Which variant is it called?

One day after its discovery in Hong Kong, the strain was named scientifically as B.1.1.529.

Alpha, Beta (Delta), Gamma and Delta have so far been officially given a name.

On November 26, experts from the World Health Organization named Omicron the variant. 

Dr Anthony Fauci said Friday there is not enough evidence about the South African variant to halt flights to the US despite the UK, Israel and Germany all suspending travel because of it

Doctor Anthony Fauci stated Friday that there was not sufficient evidence to stop flights to the US from South Africa, despite Israel, Germany and the UK all having suspended travel due to it 

Although the variant is still unknown to scientists, it has sent shockwaves through U.S. markets. 

Dow futures fell 2.25 per cent, and both the NASDAQ and S&P Futures Indices were down by more than 1 per cent. 

Brent Crude, which is the international price for oil, dropped six percentage points. 

The variant, B.1.1.529, is believed to have emerged in Botswana – from where there are no direct flights to the U.S. – and is also being found in neighboring South Africa.

Hong Kong was notified about a case in which a South African passenger had been infected by the variant after she traveled recently from South Africa. She then spread the virus to another person in quarantine. 

Israel also confirmed the identification of a case in a Malawian citizen, with two additional cases from people who have returned from overseas being placed under quarantine.  

Eric Feigl -Ding is an epidemiologist who also serves as a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists. He said that the initial data was concerning and suggested border restrictions. 

He tweeted that “Looks like vaccine fraud could be real with this variation,” pointing out the fact that both patients with the variant in Hong Kong were double-jabbed by the Pfizer vaccine. 

The one of them had just been to Southern Africa. The second individual was quarantined in the hotel and passed on the virus to him. 

The only direct flight from South Africa to America is scheduled to land at Newark on Saturday. There were none today but United operates a nightly flight ordinarily from Johannesburg to Newark, with around 250 people on board. There are other flights that will land in the US having originated in South Africa, but that have gone through Doha first. Some that were scheduled to stop in Europe have been canceled

Newark will be the landing point for South Africa’s only direct flight. Today’s flight was not available, but United regularly operates night flights from Johannesburg to Newark. There are approximately 250 passengers onboard. Other flights will also land in America, having originated from South Africa. However, these flight have passed through Doha first. Many of the flights that had been scheduled to land in Europe were canceled. 

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today called for all flights to be halted until more is known about the variant.

Ursula von der Leyen (EU Commission President) today asked for flights to be stopped until more information about this variant is made available.

Friday’s Dow plunged along with Nasdaq, Brent Crude and Nasdaq. Europe panicked at the news and so did the UK. On Friday, the Dow lost more than 1000 points 

Feigl -Ding stated, ‘It is very airborne. “The guests of the hotel were separated by a hallway in a different room.” Ambient samples showed that the virus was present in 25 of the 87 swabs taken from each room.

He said, “I believe border and travel restrictions are sensible.” Not least because Hong Kong is the only country that has mandatory hotel quarantine. What other west countries still do that? It’s almost none. 

Botswana is home to four of these confirmed cases. South Africa, however, has 77 cases. With the true number likely in the hundreds, and Hong Kong, two. That means there are 83 confirmed cases. 

South African scientists tried to backtrack Friday and said it was likely that vaccines provided ‘high degrees of protection’ against deaths or hospitalizations from this variant.   

The CDC asks that anyone who travels to or from South Africa be fully vaccinated. 

The South African government recommends that travelers adhere to South Africa’s guidelines, which include wearing a mask or social distancing. 

South Africa’s infection rates jumped by 93% in one day, amid concerns that the strain may be driving the spike. 

Local scientists say it has likely spread to all the country’s nine provinces, but there is yet to be a surge in hospitalizations in the epicenter, Johannesburg.