Risk related to Covid variant Omicron 'very high', warns WHO
- The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier said that it was “not yet clear” whether the newly-detected virus variant was more transmissible than the previously known strains.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned that the risk related to Omicron – the new variant of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) – is "very high". The global health body said that the B.1.1.529 strain, first found in South Africa, is “highly divergent” and likely to spread internationally at a very high speed and could possibly have "severe consequences.
"Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic," the WHO said.
“The overall global risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron is assessed as very high,” it noted.
Earlier the WHO had said that it was “not yet clear” whether the newly-detected virus variant was more transmissible or causes more severe consequences compared to the previously known strains, especially the Delta variant.
Delta variant was the cause behind India's horrifying second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
The WHO also said that researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.
The UN agency, however, urged its 194 member states to boost vaccinations and ensure “mitigation plans are in place” for essential health services.
“The use of masks, physical distancing, ventilation of indoor space, crowd avoidance, and hand hygiene remain key to reducing transmission of SARS CoV-2 even with the emergence of the Omicron variant," the WHO said, urging countries to increase contact tracing of Covid-19 cases.
Currently, the Omicron variant has not been reported in India. However, two clusters from Maharashtra and Karnataka are under investigation, the Indian government said.