Wednesday Dec 15, 2021
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "spreading at an unprecedented rate" across the globe, the BBC reported Wednesday.
There are confirmed cases of the "highly mutated variant" in 77 countries.
However, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated during a press briefing on Tuesday that it was likely present in many others that had not yet detected it.
Dr Tedros expressed concern over the lack of effort being expended in combating the variant.
"Surely, by now, we've realised how dangerous it is to underestimate this virus. Even if Omicron causes milder disease, the sheer volume of cases may once again overwhelm unprepared health systems," he asserted.
The Omicron variant was detected in November in South Africa, and infection rates have since increased.
Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa's president, tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently under isolation in his residence. Ramaphosa is experiencing "mild symptoms," the BBC reported.
Following detection of the Omicron variant, a number of countries have imposed travel bans on South Africa and its neighbours, but this has not prevented the virus from spreading worldwide.
Earlier this week, the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) had confirmed Pakistan's first-ever case of Omicron through gene-sequencing in a patient who had no travel history.
"Gene sequencing at AKUH has confirmed the presence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the first patient," read a statement from AKUH. "The patient is at home and doing well. So far, no other patients with COVID-19 Omicron have been identified at AKUH," it added.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) also confirmed the development via a series of posts on Twitter.