New omicron variant stokes world fears, triggers travel bans

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The world is confronting a new coronavirus variant, and officials have named it “omicron."

    A World Health Organization panel has classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern.

    Its discovery in southern Africa sent a chill through much of the world as nations raced to halt air travel, markets fell sharply and scientists held emergency meetings.

    The overall risks of omicron are not yet known.

    But the United States, the 27-nation European Union and some other countries quickly announced restrictions on travel from southern Africa and stepped up other precautions.

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