Omicron: What you need to know about new COVID variant; how to prevent it

A new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant spread across the globe on Sunday, shutting borders and renewing curbs as the EU chief said governments faced a “race against time” to understand the strain.

COVID-19: Omicron variant vaccine could be ready in early 2022 - Moderna - Nairametrics

Indonesia announced similar entry restrictions on Sunday and Angola became the first southern African country to suspend all flights from its regional neighbours Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

Here are some things you need to know about the new COVID variant (Omicron);

1. On 26 November 2021, World Health Organisation (WHO) designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).

2. It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.  

3.  All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key. 

4. Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited.

5. The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough  or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.  

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