Covid live: WHO and Europe classify Omicron as a variant of concern; US, Canada Introduce Travel Restrictions

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The European Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have classified the newly named Omicron variant, B.1.1.529, as a ‘variant of concern’.

It joins the group which already includes the Beta (formerly South African), Gamma (formerly Brazilian) and Delta (formerly Indian) variants.

The ECDC decision follows that of the World Health Organization earlier Friday. (See 18:07)

A report published by the organization says: ” [It] is the most divergent variant that has been detected in significant numbers during the pandemic so far, raising concerns that it could be associated with increased transmissibility, significant reduction in efficacy vaccine and at an increased risk of re-infections.

He says the overall risk is “high to very high” and advocates a “precautionary approach” because of the uncertainties surrounding it.

The threat assessment adds that the possibility of further introduction and spread in the EU is “high”, the impact alongside a resurgent Delta variant could be “very high”.

In response, ECDC recommends further testing, avoiding travel to affected areas and contact tracing of cases. He encourages immunization programs to continue targeting those who have not yet been vaccinated and to consider a booster dose for people 40 years of age and older.

Dr Andrea Ammon, Director of ECDC, said: “We need to be proactive and implement precautionary measures to buy time until we gain more knowledge. ”


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