Omicron now in 38 countries — WHO

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THE World Health Organization (WHO) said the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was detected already in 38 countries.

However, the WHO said it has not seen any recorded fatalities yet attributable to the new variant.

Many countries are now in a mad dash to close their borders in order to prevent entry of possible carriers of the variant, which was first discovered in South Africa on November 24, and stall economic recovery efforts.

It would take a few weeks for experts to determine the effects of the new variant, whether it is more infectious than the previous Delta variant, causes severe illness or how impervious it is versus treatment and vaccines, according to the world health body.

The new variant is said to be three times more likely to cause reinfections based on preliminary studies in South Africa.

Among the countries to have confirmed presence of cases with the Omicron variant were the United States and Australia. The two cases in the US showed no recent international travel history, which may mean the variant is already in the country.

Australia said three students in Sydney tested positive for the Omicron variant, despite a ban on non-citizens entering the country and restrictions on flights from South Africa.

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