WHO classifies new Omicron variant as COVID 'variant of concern'

·1 min read
WHO headquarters.
WHO headquarters. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Just when we thought we could sleep off our food comas in peace.

The World Health Organization on Friday officially classified a new strain of the coronavirus first found in southern Africa as a global "variant of concern," following initial detection reports that sent markets into a tailspin, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Preliminary evidence suggests the newly-named Omicron variant presents a higher risk of reinfection, and may also be more transmissible than other strains, the WHO said. Notably, the organization "only labels COVID strains as variants of concern when they're more transmissible, more virulent or more adept at eluding public health measures including vaccines and therapeutics," writes CNBC.

In what might be a futile bid at keeping the mutation off its shores, many countries have already imposed travel restrictions on flights arriving from Southern Africa.

It will, however, take "weeks" to understand how the variant might impact existing treatments and diagnostics, the WHO explained, per CNBC. Read more at CNBC and The Wall Street Journal.

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