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Switzerland: WHO chief says Omicron variant confirmed in 23 countries

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“At least 23 countries from five of six WHO regions have reported cases of Omicron, and we expect that number to grow,” stated Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Ghebreyesus on Wednesday in Geneva.

“We expect that number to grow. WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and so should every country. But it should not surprise us. This is what viruses do. And it’s what this virus will continue to do, as long as we allow it to continue spreading,” added the WHO chief.

During the briefing, Tedros announced that Omicron was a variant of ‘concern’ but argued that ‘blanket travel bans’ would not “prevent the international spread of Omicron and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”

The WHO chief advised authorities in countries of departure, transit and arrival to apply relief measures that could deal with or reduce the ingress of the variant, such as screenings, testing and quarantining.

WHO technical lead Maria van Kerkhove stated that they would have more information on the transmissibility of the new Omicron variant, and if it evades vaccines, in the following days.

#WHO #OmicronVariant #COVID19 #coronavirus

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