The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the heavily-mutated Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have “severe consequences” in some places.

Iran PressAmerica: No Omicron-linked deaths had yet been reported. However, it added on Monday that further research is needed to assess its potential to escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines and previous infections.

In anticipation of increased case numbers as the variant, first reported last week, spreads, the UN health agency urged its 194 member states to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups and ensure plans were in place to maintain health services.

“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.

“The overall global risk related to the new variant … is assessed as very high.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, sounded the alarm at the start of an assembly of health ministers on Monday that is expected to launch negotiations on an international agreement on preventing future pandemics.

“The emergence of the highly mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is,” Tedros said.


Read more:

Japan bar foreigners as global risk from omicron increases

Australian PM calls state leaders meeting over Omicron COVID-19 variant