More omicron cases pop up as world rushes to learn more

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders.

That came even as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus. The variant was identified days ago by researchers in South Africa, and much is still not known about it. But many countries rushed to act, reflecting anxiety about anything that could prolong the pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people.

Israel decided to bar entry to foreigners and Morocco said it would suspend all incoming flights for two weeks. The Netherlands reported 13 omicron cases on Sunday and both Canada and Australia each found two.