The World Health Organization says it is not yet clear whether the new COVID-19 variant, omicron, is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta.
The WHO, in a statement Sunday, also said it was not yet clear whether infection with omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.
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“The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors…Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.
“There’s currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants. Initial reported infections were among university studies-younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease-but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks.
“All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key,” it stated.
WHO had, on Friday through its Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution, named the B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant, Omicron and classified it a variant of concern.
It had said Omicron was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021.