WHO warns Omicron variant poses ‘very high’ global risk

Geneva, Nov 29 (EFE).- The new Omicron variant poses a “very high” global risk of new Covid-19 waves sweeping across countries with “serious consequences,” the World Health Organization warned on Monday.

“Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic,” the WHO said at a special session that will last three days.

“The overall global risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron is assessed as very high,” the WHO said in a statement.

The agency encouraged countries to increase surveillance measures, to report possible cases or outbreaks of the new variant, boost vaccination of vulnerable people and for international laboratories to accelerate the necessary sequencing work to analyze Omicron’s structure.

The WHO said national authorities would have to use scientific data to inform policies on international travel at a time when several countries, particularly in Europe, are scrambling to roll out fresh restrictions.

Cases of the new variant have been detected in four regions: Africa, Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.

The first confirmed case of the Omicron variant was detected on November 9 in South Africa, and just two days later another infection was identified in neighboring Botswana.

Portugal’s national health institute (INSA) on Monday confirmed 13 suspected cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

The outbreak involves players from the Portuguese First Division team Belenenses after South African defender Cafu Phete returned to Portugal on November 22 after playing two games with his national squad, sources from the football team told Efe.

According to the health authority, there are clear signs that all 13 cases are “related to the Omicron variant” although samples will need to be sequenced, INSA sources told Efe.

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