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Indiana coronavirus updates for Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021

Sunday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Nov. 28, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Sunday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest news on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Indiana.

Registrations for the vaccine are now open for Hoosiers 5 and older through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Canada reports 1st omicron variant COVID cases as world races to learn more

Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday, including Canada, and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists cautioned that it's not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus.

"I do think it’s more contagious when you look at how rapidly it spread through multiple districts in South Africa. It has the earmarks therefore of being particularly likely to spread from one person to another. … What we don’t know is whether it can compete with delta,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Collins echoed several experts in saying the news should make everyone redouble their efforts to use the tools the world already has, including vaccinations, booster shots and measures such as mask-wearing.

Swiss voters approve COVID-19 restrictions as infections rise five-fold

Swiss voters on Sunday gave clear backing to legislation that introduced a system with special COVID-19 certificates under which only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative can attend public events and gatherings. Final results showed 62% of voters supporting the legislation, which is already in force. 

The referendum offered a rare bellwether of public opinion on the issue of government policy to fight the spread of coronavirus in Europe, which is currently the global epicenter of the pandemic.

The vote on the country's “COVID-19 law,” which also has unlocked billions of Swiss francs (dollars) in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic, came as Switzerland — like many other nations in Europe — faces a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

WHO questions travel bans from southern Africa due to omicron variant

The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant. WHO's regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.

“Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement. “If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.”

COVID variant spreads to more countries as world on alert

The new potentially more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus has popped up in more European countries, just days after being identified in South Africa., leaving governments around the world scrambling to stop the spread. 

The U.K. on Saturday tightened its rules on mask-wearing and on testing of international arrivals after finding two cases. New cases were confirmed Saturday in Germany and Italy, with Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong also reporting that the variant has been found in travelers. 

There are growing concerns that the pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions will persist for far longer than hoped because of fears that the new variant has the potential to be more resistant to the protection offered by vaccines.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 48.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 7 a.m. Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 776,530 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 261.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 5.19 million deaths and more than 7.58 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.

Pfizer: 'Tailor-made' vaccine against new variants in 100 days

With the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 variant, a number of pharmaceutical firms are announcing they have plans in place to adapt their vaccines if necessary.

AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer say they already have plans to react. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they have been monitoring for potential variants capable of evading its mRNA vaccine.

Moderna said it has been developing a strategy since early 2021 to respond to new variants of concern and has identified three response options.  

FULL STORY: Pfizer: 'Tailor-made' vaccine against new variants in 100 days