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SWITZERLAND has banned all Brits from entering the country in a bid to contain a new strain of the coronavirus.

Sajid Javid yesterday confirmed two cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been reported in the UK.

2Visitors walk at a Christmas market, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, on the Sechselaeutenplatz square in Zurich, SwitzerlandCredit: Reuters 2

So far cases of the deadly Omicron Covid variant have appeared in Britain, Australia, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Czech Republic and Israel.

WHO first reported the new strain earlier this week after a case was reported in South Africa earlier this month, later calling it a "variant of concern," and that early evidence "suggests an increased risk of reinfection."

The new strain reportedly has a high number of mutations in the virus’ spike protein.

Now Switzerland has said only Swiss nationals and permanent residents can enter in a massive blow to Brit’s Christmas getaway plans.

Swiss travellers from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi will also need to present a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for ten days, the Federal Office of Public Health said in a tweet.

On Friday, Switzerland banned direct flights from South Africa and the surrounding region due to the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, while also imposing restrictions on travel from other countries including Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

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Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have also been detected in the southern German state of Bavaria and in Itlay, both neighbours of Switzerland, but Switzerland has thus far not imposed travel restrictions on any countries with which it shares borders.

Meanwhile Israel has barred entry to all foreign nationals, mandating quarantine for all Israelis arriving from abroad and red-listing travel to 50 African countries. 

It also approved use of the Shin Bet internal security agency's controversial phone monitoring technology to perform contact tracing of individuals confirmed with the new omicron variant of coronavirus in Israel.

While much remains to be learned about the new variant, researchers are concerned that it may be more resistant to the protection provided by vaccines and could mean that the pandemic lasts for longer than anticipated.

Elsewhere in the world, Australian officials confirmed Sunday that two overseas travelers arriving in Sydney are the first to test positive in the country for the omicron variant of the coronavirus, as nations around the world tightened controls against the worrying new strain.

The two passengers were among a group of 14 others who arrived in Australia from southern Africa on Saturday, They were asymptomatic and were both vaccinated for COVID-19. The remaining 12 have been placed in quarantine.

Neighboring New Zealand announced it was restricting travel from nine southern African countries because of the threat posed by the variant, and Japan widened its border controls to include more countries from the region.

Tourist-dependent Thailand, which only recently began loosening its tight border restrictions to leisure travelers from certain countries, announced a ban of its own on visitors from eight African counties. 

Similar restrictions took effect in the business hub of Singapore, which is barring entry and transit to anyone with a recent history of travel to seven southern African nations.

Sri Lanka banned disembarkation of passengers arriving from six African countries due to the detection of the omicron variant, as did the Maldives, the luxury Indian Ocean resort archipelago. 

In addition to the similar entry ban, quarantine officials in the Philippines have been ordered to track down recent travelers from southern Africa and put them in a quarantine.

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Tags: coronavirus omicron covid variant the omicron variant the coronavirus omicron variant african countries southern african two cases switzerland restrictions the omicron quarantine travelers the new strain the new strain the omicron czech republic covid variant arriving the spread earlier this south africa reported travel the country

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We ­congratulate Rishi Sunak on giving Brits the bailout they badly needed

Sum you win

IT is the bailout Britain badly needed — and bigger than many dared hope. We ­congratulate Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

A generous four-figure bung to the poorest, and substantial sums for most households, will make a real difference to a nation battered by astronomical bills.

2We ­congratulate Chancellor Rishi Sunak on bailing out BritainCredit: PA

Rishi left it late.

But it does him credit that he realised the inadequacy of his previous Budget and, yes, even agreed a one-off windfall tax to which Tories — especially a supposedly “low tax” ­Chancellor — are normally allergic.

These are not normal times. Tories aghast at hitting oil firms’ mind- boggling profits must remember that.

In two years the global economy has been smashed by a once-in-a-century pandemic and the gravest war in Europe since 1945.

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A windfall tax is a desperate measure necessary in desperate times.

Labour gloat that it was their idea.

But of course a windfall tax comes naturally to socialists for whom “profit” is a swear word and hiking public spending the very point of power.

This is what they would do even in good times.

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The Chancellor’s version is far more considered and skilful.

And politically it leaves Keir Starmer — his cupboard now bare — in the unfortunate position of having to think up a second policy.

But while this emergency £21billion injection looks vital to prevent millions facing hardship, it is not problem-free.

First, we can only pray the giveaway doesn’t fuel inflation, already rampant.

Second, what the nation needs most is tax cuts to kickstart growth.

Mr Sunak must be preparing these now.

The highest burden in 70 years is suffocating the economy.

That IS un-Conservative.

Third, and worst, is the danger that a nation kept afloat by borrowing £400billion during Covid, and now bailed out again, starts to believe a Corbyn-style “magic money tree” really CAN cushion them from the harshness of reality.

That delusion leads to a bankrupt Britain. Mountainous debts must be repaid.

Lure of Britain

FUNNY, isn’t it, how Britain — “despite Brexit” — is just as attractive to migrants as ever . . . and especially skilled ones?

Yes, it is shameful how little infrastructure we build to cope with an annual influx of 239,000.

But today let us merely note that skilled migrants now flock here from around the world while unskilled ones from the EU can’t.

It was one of the central cases for Brexit.

And, for all the Remainer whingeing, it has been delivered.

Abba do

HOW fantastic to see Abba finally reunited . . . tinged only by the sadness that it really will be the last time.

Those who remember their heyday never thought we’d see them again.

2Abba finally reunited for what will be the last timeCredit: Alamy

Yet here they are . . . re-Bjorn.

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