Omicron ‘quite infectious’, must not panic: WHO

AFP
December 04, 2021

DUBAI: The World Health Organisation’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday that while the new coronavirus variant Omicron appeared to be very transmissible, the right response...

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DUBAI: The World Health Organisation’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday that while the new coronavirus variant Omicron appeared to be very transmissible, the right response was to be prepared, cautious and not panic.

The WHO has urged countries to boost health care capacity and vaccinate their people to fight a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant, saying travel curbs could buy time but alone were not the answer.

“How worried should we be? We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because we’re in a different situation to a year ago,” Swaminathan said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.

While the emergence of the new variant was unwelcome, she said the world was much better prepared given the development of vaccines since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much remains unknown about Omicron, which was first detected in southern Africa last month and has been spotted in at least two dozen countries. Parts of Europe were already grappling with a wave of infections of the Delta variant before it emerged. “We need to wait, lets hope it’s milder ... but it’s too early to conclude about the variant as a whole,” Swaminathan said of what was known about Omicron.



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