NEWYORK|SHIFTMEDIA| World Health Organisation has described the latest menace “omicron” as a serious threat.
WHO has named the new South African COVID-19 variant for the Greek letter, a clear indication experts believe the mutated virus could prove to be a serious threat going into the winter season.
According to the NewYord Daily News World health leaders made the decision in an emergency meeting on Friday, where they discussed the potential dangers of the variant, previously known as B.1.1.529. While it’s unclear whether the mutated coronavirus will have the same impact as the highly contagious delta variant, scientists have already expressed concern regarding its transmissibility.
Meanwhile, nations around the world moved to restrict travel from South Africa, where the variant was first detected earlier this week. The European Union, which is made up of 27 nations, recommended a ban on flights from the region on Friday, even after WHO officials warned against making any rash moves while scientists continue to investigate the latest version of the virus.
And Danielle Filson, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio, said in a statement that City Hall is in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is “following global scientific reports closely.”
Fear surrounding the variant has been stoked by speculation that it could be more transmissible than the delta variant and render vaccines less effective.
South African scientist Tulio de Oliveira said in a media briefing this week that the variant contains more than 30 mutations to the spike protein, or the part of the virus that infects healthy cells. The delta variant had only two mutations.
Many of these mutations are linked to increased antibody resistance, which could alter how the virus interacts with treatments and shots as well as its transmissibility, health officials have said.
“It’s a suspicious variant,” Belgium Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said. “We don’t know if it’s a very dangerous variant.”
Belgium became the first European Union country to announce a case of the variant on Friday. It involved a person who came from abroad.
Cases have also been detected in Israel and Hong Kong.