The Omicron strain has now been detected in US, Australia, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Malaysia – and the WHO says it could take weeks to determine how infectious the variant is
Image: James Maloney/Lancs Live)
No one has died from the new Covid-19 variant Omicron as the strain has been detected in 38 countries, the World Health Organization has said.
The US and Australia have become the latest countries to confirm locally transmitted cases of the variant as Omicron brought South Africa’s infections past three million.
Cases have also been detected in Sri Lanka, South Korea and Malaysia.
The WHO has warned it could take weeks to determine how infectious the variant is, if it causes more severe illness and if vaccines are effective against it.
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan: “We’re going to get the answers that everybody out there needs.”
Yesterday, the WHO said it had still not seen any deaths related to Omicron.
It also said Omicron could cause more than half of Europe’s Covid cases in the next few months.
International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said the new variant could slow the global economic recovery.
The new variant could also slow global economic recovery, just as the Delta strain did, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.
AFP via Getty Images)
She said: “Even before the arrival of this new variant, we were concerned that the recovery, while it continues, is losing somewhat momentum.
“A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence.”
It comes as Another 75 cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant have been found in England.
The total number of cases in England now stands at 104, with a further 16 cases being identified in Scotland – bringing the total there to 29.
There is also one confirmed case in Wales and no reported cases so far in Northern Ireland – meaning a total of 34 cases have so far been identified in the UK.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, said: “Increased case detection through focused contact tracing has led to more cases of the Omicron variant being identified and confirmed, as we have seen in other countries globally.
“We are continuing to monitor the data closely. Teams nationally and locally are working at pace to identify and trace all close contacts of every Omicron case. It is critical that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.
“We have started to see cases where there are no links to travel, suggesting that we have a small amount of community transmission. That’s why it’s so important that everybody, everywhere, takes simple steps to protect themselves from infection.
“Please wear face coverings in line with government guidance, let in fresh air when mixing indoors and wash your hands regularly.
“Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant so please get your first, second, third or booster jab as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your families and your communities.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.