A new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, recently emerged, alarming many as its mutations are numerous and sparked concerns of increased transmissibility.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Omicron has been classified as a variant of concern (VOC). Overall, the risk related to it is considered to be “very high”.
There have not been any deaths linked to the Omicron variant at the moment, although an increase in cases is very likely.
On Sunday (28 Nov), the WHO released a press statement about the recently discovered Omicron variant.
It has a high number of mutations, some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility.
Nevertheless, since the variant is newly discovered, there are still many uncertainties and more studies are required.
What the WHO does know is that the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high.
Hence, it could lead to future surges of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on different factors, including location.
As of 28 Nov 2021, 3pm, cases have been detected in South Africa, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.
However, there have not been any deaths linked to the Omicron variant yet.
With regard to preliminary evidence, there could be an increased risk of reinfection since Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations.
Hence, there are several priority actions WHO has suggested their Member States do.
Member States are encouraged to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand Covid-19 variants, including Omicron.
Countries that detect Omicron cases or clusters should report them to the WHO, and regularly communicate evidence-based information and other variants to the public.
The WHO also encourages countries to quickly vaccinate their population and ensure safety measures are put in place.
Additionally, countries should use a risk-based approach to adjust international travel measures in a timely manner.
Since the new variant could increase the spread of Covid-19, countries are encouraged to make sure mitigation plans are in place to maintain essential health services.
For more information, you may read WHO’s press release here.
As the new Covid-19 variant brings about much uncertainty, it can be rather frightening to think about the complications it may cause even as countries seek to reopen.
Hopefully, medical experts will be able to research and learn more about the Omicron variant to better understand how to tackle it.
In the meantime, do remember to take safety precautions and ensure you abide by Covid-19 measures.
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Featured image by MS News.
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