The risk posed by the Omicron variant is still "very high", said the World Health Organization on Wednesday (December 29th), after COVID-19 case numbers shot up by 11% globally last week.
Omicron is behind rapid virus spikes in several countries, including those where it has already overtaken the previously-dominant Delta variant, the WHO said in its COVID-19 weekly epidemiological update.
Photo via New York Times
"The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high," the UN health agency said as reported by NST.
"Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant with a doubling time of two to three days and rapid increases in the incidence of cases is seen in a number of countries, including Britain and the United States, where it has become the dominant variant.
"The rapid growth rate is likely to be a combination of both immune evasion and intrinsic increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant,” said WHO.
However, the WHO highlighted the 29% decrease in the incidence of cases observed in South Africa -- the country which first reported the variant to the WHO on November 24th.
It said early data from Britain, South Africa and Denmark -- which currently has the world's highest rate of infection per person, suggested there was a reduced risk of hospitalization for Omicron compared to Delta.
However, further data was needed to understand Omicron's severity in terms of clinical markers, including the use of oxygen, mechanical ventilation and death.
More data was also required on how the severity might be being impacted by previous Covid infection, or vaccination.
Omicron is a variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. To protect yourself and others: 💉 Get vaccinated as soon as it's...
Posted by World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday, December 25, 2021
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the United States, Britain, France and Italy.
Guys, please take care of yourself and stay safe! Remember to wear a face mask, wash your hands regularly and maintain physical distancing.
By: Aishah Akashah Ahadiat