WHO warns omicron poses ‘very high’ global risk as variant spreads

The global risk of the new omicron variant is “very high,” the World Health Organization said Monday, as more countries reported cases of the variant that has sparked worldwide concern that there is more pandemic suffering ahead.

As cases of the variant are confirmed around the world, an increasing number of nations are tightening their borders despite pleas for caution and outbursts of dismay from some.

“Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we’re done with Covid-19, it’s not done with us,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, told a special session of the World Health Assembly.

In written advice to its member states, the U.N. agency urged them to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination coverage “as rapidly as possible,” particularly among high-priority groups, and to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts.

Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic,” the body said in the report it tweeted out. “If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by omicron, consequences may be severe.”

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