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At least 23 countries have reported cases of omicron variant: WHO chief

At least 23 countries from five of six World Health Organization regions have now reported cases of the new omicron variant of coronavirus, and the number is expected to grow, the WHO chief said Wednesday.

“The emergence of the omicron variant has understandably captured global attention,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus at a press webinar on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and so should every country. But it should not surprise us. This is what viruses do.”

He said the omicron virus announced on Friday will continue to develop if the world allows it to continue spreading.

“We are learning more all the time about omicron, but there’s still more to learn about its effect on transmission, the severity of disease, and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics, and vaccines,” Tedros noted.

He said the world must not forget that it is already dealing with a highly transmissible, dangerous variant -- the delta -- which currently accounts for almost all cases globally.

“We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from delta. And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and save lives from omicron,” added Tedros.​​​​​​​


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