Just when you thought that our world was getting back to normal, having shaken off COVID-19, its delta variant, and all of the economic chaos that it brought with it, the World Health Organization has begun sounding the alarm on another “variant of concern”.
This time around, the mutation comes to us from South Africa, and its potential for disaster has the global community sitting up and taking notice.
Countries across the world rushed Friday to identify potential cases and halt travel from southern Africa where a new variant of Covid-19 emerged as a sudden source of global alarm.Advertisement - story continues below
Identified earlier this week and known as B.1.1.529, it has been designated a “variant of concern” or VOC and named “Omicron,” the World Health Organization said in a statement Friday. The body uses a Greek-letter system to name new strains of the virus.
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” the statement added. “Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant.”
The US stock market took a rather sizable hit in response, with the travel industry spooked by the potential for massive shutdowns.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said no decision had been made on potential U.S. travel restrictions for the region.Advertisement - story continues below
He told CNN that federal health officials would hold discussions on Friday with their South African counterparts and that there was no indication at this stage the new variant was already in the country, but that it was possible.
“We want to find out scientist-to-scientist exactly what is going on,” he said. “It’s something that in real time we’re learning more and more about.”
Other nations, including the UK and Japan, have already begun to limit travel to and fro African nations afflicted by omicron.