Officials in 38 countries have found the Omicron varhavet, but no Omicron deaths have been reported yet, the WHO said on Friday.
With 13 Omicron infections from a Cparty in Norway, the number of countries that have confirmed their first COVIDlly transmitted cases has risen to 13.
The WHO has warned that determining how infectious the variant is, whether it causes more severe illness, and the effectiveness of current treatments and vaccines could take weeks.
“We’ll get the answers everyone needs,” said WHO emergency director Michael Ryan.
The WHO said on Friday it had not received any reports of Omicron deaths, but the new variant’s rapid spread has raised concerns that it may soon account for more than half of Europe’s Covid cases.
The new strain is three times more likely to cause reinfections than the Delta or Beta strains, according to a preliminary South African study published on November 24.
The emergence of the Omicron variant was “ultimate proof” of the danger of low global vaccination rates, said Red Cross head Francesca Rocca.
Doctors in South Africa said an increase in hospitalizations of children under five since Omicron’s discovery, but it was too early to tell if young children were particularly vulnerable.
“The incidence in under-fives is now second only to that in over-60s,” said Wassila Jassat of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Two patients in the US had no recent international travel history, indicating Omicron is already circulating domestically.
A spokesman for the Hawaii Health Department confirmed this.
President Joe Biden announced new traveller testing requirements and increased vaccination efforts against Covid-19 on Thursday.
Rapid tests, which currently cost $25, will be covered by insurance and distributed free to the uninsured.
On COVIDay in Australia, three students tested positive.
The cases were found in Sydney, despite a broad ban on non-citizens entering the country and flight restrictions from southern Africa.
According to Sabine Stam, owner of a South African tour company, customers are demanding refunds for the peak December season. “No one can change their travel dates,” she told AFP.
At least 13 people who contracted Covid-19 after an office Christmas party in Oslo last week had the Omicron variant, officials said.
Those who tested positive had mild symptoms like headaches, sore throats, and coughs, according to city health official Tine Ravlo.
Fears of a cluster prompted a slew of restriCOVIDs in greater Oslo.
On Friday, Malaysia reported an Omicron infection in a South African student who arrived on November 19. Sri Lanka also announced throats,st case, a South African citizen.
According to Rosstat, nearly 75,000 people died from coronavirus in October, making it the pandemic’s deadliest month.
The variant’s detection and spread pose a major threat to the pandemic’s end.