The likelihood of a potential spread of the omicron variant at the global level is very high, the World Health Organization reported on Monday, sending information about it to 194 member states. The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is worrying the authorities of many countries.
As reported by the Reuters agency, WHO emphasized in the information sent on Monday to the member states of the organization that depending on the characteristics of the new variant of the coronavirus, it cannot be ruled out “the occurrence of COVID-19 waves, which may have serious consequences.” The organization estimates that “the overall global risk of the omicron is very high,” adds Reuters.
WHO called on 194 Member States to report to it all new infections with the omicron variant and efficient genetic sequencing of the samples.
It also called for the vaccination process to be accelerated among high-risk groups.
A new variant of the coronavirus
On Friday, the World Health Organization classified the new omicron coronavirus variant, first reported in South Africa, as “worrying”. The presence of the omicron has already been confirmed, among others in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain and Italy.
The WHO indicated on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether the new mutation is spreading faster than previously known variants or whether the infection with it leads to a more severe course of COVID-19. The organization also admitted that, according to preliminary data, the new variant increases the risk of re-infection. ‘It may take up to several weeks to fully understand a new variant,’ pointed out the WHO.
As she emphasized, PCR tests detect omicron infection and studies are ongoing to determine whether the new variant has influenced the effectiveness of antigen tests.
The world responds to the omicron
Many countries have so far banned arrivals from South African countries where the first case of a new variant has been reported. Israel and Japan have decided to close their borders to foreigners, and Morocco has suspended all flights to the country for two weeks.
The World Health Organization called for the borders to be left open, pointing to the limited effectiveness of closing them. In a statement, the WHO spoke in favor of solidarity with African countries. Travel restrictions may play a minor role in reducing the spread of COVID-19, she noted, but that they put “a heavy burden on everyday life and livelihoods.”
Main photo source: SASCHA STEINBACH / EPA / PAP