Omicron likely present in most countries, says WHO

Geneva: The World Health Organization on Tuesday said that the new COVID-19 variant Omicron has been detected in over 70 countries and it was likely already present in most countries in the world.

“77 countries have now reported cases of Omicron, and the reality is that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet. Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant,” WHO said in a tweet.

The international health body also raised concern over the world as people are dismissing Omicron as mild.

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“We’re concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild. Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems” it said further.

The WHO also urged people to use proper coronavirus protocol.

“It’s not vaccines instead of masks. It’s not vaccines instead of distancing. It’s not vaccines instead of ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well,” the organisation said.

It also said: “The emergence of Omicron has prompted some countries to roll out #COVID19 booster programmes for their entire adult populations, even while we lack evidence for the effectiveness of boosters against this variant.”

Earlier, the World Health Organization has said that it expects an increase in the number of hospitalisations and fatalities related to Omicron coronavirus strain.

“As case numbers linked to a variant of concern increase globally, we expect the number of hospitalized cases and even deaths to be reported,” the WHO said in a statement.

The UN health agency also said that more information is needed to fully understand the clinical picture of those infected with Omicron and WHO encourages countries to contribute to the collection and sharing of hospitalized patient data through the WHO COVID-19 Clinical Data Platform, according to Sputnik.

It comes as the WHO last week had shed light on features of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, including the extent to which it will spread, and the number of mutations in the newfound strain.

The UN-health agency had suggested that a new variant could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic, but it’s still too early to say for sure.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, last week had said that highlighted “a consistent picture of the rapid increase in transmission” but he added that the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to quantify.

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