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New Info Shows Omicron Spread Wider Earlier Than Thought

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People wear face mask to protect against the coronavirus at the public transport station Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. According to local authorities wearing face masks mandatory in public transport and passengers need to be vaccinated, recovered or tested negative of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

(AP) — New findings about the coronavirus’s omicron variant made it clear that the emerging threat slipped into countries before their defenses were up, as two distant nations announced their first cases and a third reported its presence before South African officials sounded the alarm. The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute said Tuesday it found omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23. The World Health Organization said South Africa first reported the variant to the U.N. health agency on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Japan and France reported their first cases of the new variant that has forced the world once again to pinball between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come.

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