After a couple of weeks the new new coronavirus variant called Omicron was discovered in Southern Africa, Mzansi and Botswana. The virus caused a stir across the globe where a number of countries in Europe, Asia and North America posed a travel ban and restrictions.
According to news reports the variant has also been spotted in some countries like Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium.
The World Health Organization began naming the variants after Greek letters to avoid public confusion and stigma. Markets plunged on Friday, hope of taming the coronavirus dimmed and a new term entered the pandemic lexicon: Omicron.
Omicron carries a concerning number of mutations that could help it spread, render vaccines less effective, or potentially lead to more severe disease. Preliminary evidence suggests Omicron may increase the risk of reinfection relative to other concerning variants, the World Health Organization said Friday.
“It may be it’s highly transmissible, but so far the cases we are seeing are extremely mild,” Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told The Guardian on Friday. “Maybe two weeks from now I will have a different opinion, but this is what we are seeing.”
But scientists and medical experts are still crunching the data to determine if Omicron poses a greater public health threat than Delta, the dominant worldwide strain.