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New data shows Omicron variant spread wider earlier than thought

Travelers wearing protective face masks arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, Nov. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Travelers wearing protective face masks arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, Nov. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

New findings about the coronavirus’s Omicron variant make it clear that the emerging threat slipped into countries well before their defenses were up.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute says it has found Omicron in samples dating from November 19 and 23.

The World Health Organization says South Africa first reported the variant to the UN health agency on November 24.

Meanwhile, Japan and France report their first cases of the new variant, which has forced the world once again to pinball between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come.

And German authorities say they have identified an Omicron infection in a man who had neither been abroad nor had contact with anyone who was.

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