The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday, 29 November that omicron, the new COVID-19 variant, poses a "very high risk" to the world, further emphasising that the lack of information surrounding the contagiousness of the variant makes it even more necessary to take precautions, AFP reported.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology... the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern (VOC), named Omicron," according to a statement put out by the WHO.
"If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe," it said.
Although it did add that "to date, no deaths linked to Omicron variant have been reported."
The recently discovered B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19, which was first caught in southern Africa, is now classified as alongside the delta variant, which has wreaked havoc all across the world, and its weaker counterparts alpha, beta and gamma.
The WHO, in its "Update on Omicron," published on 28 November, has asked its member states to take immediate steps, some of which are "enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases; sharing genome sequences on publicly available databases, such as GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data), and reporting initial cases or clusters to WHO."
Additionally, it also recommended individual actions for people, such as "wearing a well-fitting mask; opening windows to improve ventilation; avoiding poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keeping hands clean, and getting vaccinated when it’s their turn."
Countries around the world have started imposing travel bans and have increased testing-on-arrival as they attempt to work together to prevent the spread of the new variant.
(With inputs from AFP.)