The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released an announcement wherein the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has been designated as a variant of concern (VOC). Shortly after the announcement, countries imposed temporary travel measures, such as prohibiting travelers from South Africa and Southern African countries where the variant was first identified and called the Omicron variant . It was immediately reported to the WHO by South Africa health authorities last week, November 24, 2021.
The WHO announcement also mentioned that the variant has a lot of mutations, which can be an alarming concern. Furthermore, there are initial evidences that show there is an increased risk of reinfection compared to the previous variants. It is said that current diagnostics of the SARS-CoV-2 remains to be effective in spotting the Omicron variant.
WHO is currently conducting studies to gather more information about the variant’s mutation and whether it has an impact to vaccines, therapeutics, transmissibility, diagnostics, and virulence. Moreover, the health organization is observing the spread of the variant meticulously.
Once countries enhance their sequencing and surveillance, more people infected by the Omicron variant will be revealed. If necessary, WHO researchers will be sharing their newly discovered findings with the public and IH States Parties.
WHO Commends South Africa
The World Health Organization praises countries Botswana and South Africa on their speed and transparency in immediately notifying the WHO Secretariat concerning the Omicron variant. In agreement with the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, such actions permit other countries to quickly readjust their measures against the coronavirus pandemic. The health organization requests all countries to follow the regulations and display global solidarity in transparent and swift information sharing.