Fears grow that the pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions will persist for far longer than expected

Governments worldwide are scrambling to protect their countries against the new omicron variant of the coronavirus by banning flights from southern African nations where it is believed to be spreading, although several cases were confirmed in Europe and the Middle East.

Britain, Germany and Italy detected cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new steps to contain the dangerous new strain.

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated it a variant of concern and many countries are racing to try and contain it, banning flights from southern Africa.... Read More: i24