Amid Omicron threat, the new Covid-19 variant spreading rapidly, World Health Organisation's Director General Tedros Adhanom on Wednesday sounded alarm saying that at least 23 countries from five of six WHO regions have now reported cases of Omicron.
Speaking at a press conference, Dr Tedros also added that WHO expects the numbers to grow. The conference is on Covid-19 pandemic after a three-day ministerial meeting on launching WHO negotiations for a new international agreement to prevent pandemics.
"WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and so should every country. But it should not surprise us. This is what viruses do. And it’s what this virus will continue to do, as we long as we allow it to continue spreading," Dr Tedros further added.
He also added that the agency was learning more all the time about Omicron, but there’s still more to learn about its effect on transmission, severity of disease, and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines.
"Several WHO advisory groups have met over the last couple of days to evaluate the emerging evidence, and prioritise the studies needed to answer these questions," he further informed.
The WHO DG also thanked Botswana and South Africa for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant so rapidly, while adding, "It is deeply concerning to me that those countries are now being penalized by others for doing the right thing."
He added, "We call on all countries to take rational, proportional risk-reduction measures, in keeping with the International Health Regulations."
The UN agency had last week declared the recently-discovered B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19, first detected in southern Africa, to be a variant of concern and renamed it Omicron.
The classification puts Omicron into the most-troubling category of Covid-19 variants, along with the globally-dominant Delta, plus its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today