Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport Britain
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport Image Credit: Reuters

New York: The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has now been detected in countries from the US to South Korea, underscoring the difficulties of curtailing contagious new strains.

Most infections stem from travellers carrying the disease across borders. Israel, for instance, said a confirmed case who arrived from Malawi rode on a bus from Tel Aviv. Italy's first case traveled around the country for days before testing positive. The first omicron case was confirmed in the US in a person who returned from South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Researchers worldwide are racing to understand the full impact of the new strain, and governments have banned travelers from South Africa and nearby countries on concerns omicron could evade the protection of vaccines and fuel new surges.

Here's how far omicron has reached:

South Africa: Early PCR test samples showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases reported midweek in the province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the variant. The daily number of new confirmed cases almost doubled to 8,561 infections, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases

Botswana: At least 19 cases detected

UK: Five cases, the two latest cases are not connected to each other and not related to the previous three confirmed infections linked to travel in South Africa

Germany: Two cases in travellers who arrived at Munich airport from South Africa, AFP reported, citing regional officials.

Netherlands: 13 cases detected among travelers from South Africa

Denmark: Two cases in arrivals from South Africa

Belgium: One case

Israel: One confirmed case and other suspected ones, as of Nov. 27.

Italy: One case who moved around the country before testing positive

Czech Republic: One case, according to local media

Austria: One confirmed case in Tyrol for person arriving from South Africa. Authorities reviewing another 30 suspected cases

Switzerland: Three cases. People are in isolation

Saudi Arabia: First Omicron case detected in the Kingdom on Wednesday.

UAE: One confirmed case for a person arriving from an African nation and was passing through the UAE.

US: A person in California who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 became the first in the US.