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WHO says Omicron variant poses very high global risk

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Delta variant still responsible for 99% of COVID cases globally
Variant cause for concern, not panic – Biden
US may face fifth COVID wave: Dr. Fauci
Japan bans all foreign travellers
World

UK, SWITZERLAND, US: The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is likely to spread further and poses a “very high” global risk, according to the World Health Organization, which warned Monday that surges of COVID-19 infections caused by the variant of concern could have “severe consequences” for some areas.

“Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high,” the WHO said in its risk assessment on Monday within a technical brief to its 194 member states.

“Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of COVID-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors including where surges may take place. The overall global risk related to the new VOC [Variant Of Concern] Omicron is assessed as very high,” the UN health agency said.

Early data suggests that the variant is spreading in South Africa more rapidly than previous strains did and that the variant could be starting to trigger a new wave of infections, according to an analysis by the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, while the world is on high alert due to the new Omicron COVID strain, Delta variant continues to be a major cause of the pandemic contributing to 99 per cent of cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

Last week, the global health body classified the latest variant B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2 virus, with the name Omicron, as a “Variant of Concern” (VOC), which means it could be more contagious, more virulent or more skilled at evading public health measures, vaccines and therapeutics. First detected from Botswana, in Africa, it has since spread to various countries in Europe, including Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the UK, in Australia and Canada among others.

US President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans on Monday that the US was prepared to handle the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, pledging to accelerate development of vaccines to handle it if necessary.

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following a meeting with his COVID-19 team.

Meanwhile, The United States has “the potential to go into a fifth wave” of coronavirus infections, said top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci amid the rising cases due to the newly detected Covid variant Omicron and stagnating vaccination rates.

According to Fauci, the Omicron variant shows signs of heightened transmissibility, the Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, Japan on Monday joined Israel and Morocco in barring all foreign travellers, and Australia delayed reopening its borders for two weeks, as more countries sealed themselves off in response to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said that Japan would reverse a move earlier this month to reopen its borders to short-term business travellers and international students. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has been closed to tourists since early in the pandemic, a policy it has maintained even as other wealthy nations reopened to vaccinated visitors. – CNBC, IANS, THE TELEGRAPH INDIA

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – 01:00











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