The World Health Organisation (WHO) says emerging data from South Africa, suggests an increased risk of re-infection with the Omicron variant but added that there is proof that Omicron causes milder disease than its predecessor the Delta variant.

Speaking at a media briefing, WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, has urged countries to increase surveillance, testing and sequencing of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“The Omicron variant has now been reported in 57 countries, and we expect that number to continue growing. Certain features of Omicron, including its global spread and large number of mutations, suggest it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic.”

“Exactly what that impact will be is still difficult to know. We are now starting to see a consistent picture of rapid increase in transmission, although for now the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to quantify.,” explains Ghebreyesus.

World Health Organisation briefs on the spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant:

Ghebreyesus has cautioned against discriminatory travel bans as the omicron variant spreads to even more countries.

Southern African countries have been slapped with travel bans by some European countries, and the US, following the recent discovery of the new variant by scientists in South Africa and Botswana.