The Latest: Local transmission of virus variant in Scotland

LONDON — Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there is evidence of local transmission of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus after the country reported its first six cases.

She told a news conference that not all the cases in Scotland had links to recent travel, adding that this suggests “there might already be some community transmission of this variant in Scotland.”

The new cases takes the U.K.’s total to nine after three cases were identified in England over the weekend.

The arrival of the variant on British shores prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten restrictions on mask-wearing and testing of international arrivals to England.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— 13 omicron cases discovered in Portuguese soccer club

— AP explains what is known and not known about the new COVID-19 variant

Merriam-Webster chooses vaccine as the 2021 word of the year

Why WHO skipped ‘nu,’ ‘xi’ for new COVID variant

— See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s planning minister said a big vaccination campaign against coronavirus will be expedited this week to minimize the threat of the new variant.

Asad Umar warned that the new coronavirus variant known as omicron will inevitably come to the Islamic nation in the next few weeks, and he urged unvaccinated citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Umar said since the world is interconnected, it is impossible to stop the new variant from entering Pakistan.

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LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese health authorities said they have identified 13 cases of omicron, the new coronavirus variant believed to be more contagious, among team members of a professional soccer club.

The Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute said Monday that one of those who tested positive at the Lisbon-based Belenenses soccer club had recently traveled to South Africa, where the omicron variant was first identified.

The others, however, hadn’t traveled to South Africa, indicating that this may be one of the very first cases of local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa.

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania wants to repatriate 39 of its citizens from South Africa, including members of a professional rugby team, amid suspended flights because of concerns over the omicron variant.

Romania’s foreign ministry said it will organize a special repatriation flight and urged Romanian citizens in South Africa who want to leave the country to notify the authorities as soon as possible.

Romania’s sports minister, Eduard Novak, said he has been in close contact with Romania’s national champion rugby team whose members are in South Africa.