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WHO cautions against new COVID-19 variant

The world Health Organization, WHO, says the new SARS-CoV-2 Variant known as Omicron (B.1.1.529) has been classified as a Variant of concern.

A statement on WHO’s website, says the variant has a large number of mutations, noting that Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection as compared to other Variants of Concern.

The statement explains that the report is from findings from the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE), an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus.

According to the (TAG-VE) report, the B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on the 24th of November noting that the epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant and then the B.1.1.529 variant which was first known from a specimen collected on the 9th November.

The WHO also confirmed that there are a number of studies underway and the TAG-VE will continue to evaluate the variant which will be communicated to Member States and to the public as needed.

The statement therefore urges countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Reporting by Emmanuel Kutara, Editing by Daniel Adejo