Healthcare officials believe that the spread of the mutating virus looks a lot like the beginning of fourth wave.
- More than 25 countries worldwide reported cases of Omicron variant.
- U.S. and Saudi Arabi register first cases of the mutating virus.
- South Africa witnesses unprecedented increase in cases, region at the edge of fourth wave.
- U.K. targets to vaccinate entire adult population with booster shots by Jan end.
On Nov 9, a new COVID-19 variant was found in a specimen collected in Botswana, South Africa, as reported by World Health Organization. Not even a month later, the Omicron variant is already spreading around the globe like a wildfire. After South Africa, Europe was the worst affected region, however, eased travel restrictions and lenient social distancing norms are since then, leading an increasing number of nations throughout the world into the virus outbreak.
Before the healthcare authorities could get familiar with the new variant that was reported to be mutating at an unusual pace, Omicron already spread around 20 nations. This was before the official cases started being reported.
And as reported by the Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Omicron variant is now reportedly found in more than 25 nations. Adding to the alarming facts, the numbers are only expected to go up from here.
“WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and so should every country,” he added.
The list of countries that have reported cases of the Omicron variant is as follows-
- South Africa
- United States
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- Saudi Arabia
Omicron Variant spreading at an alarming rate globally
The worst affected nation, South Africa’s condition has been termed as an “exponential increase” by the National Insitute for Communicable Diseases. In the last two weeks, the weekly average has reached from 300 new cases per day to 1000. Most recently, this number has touched the 3,500 mark.
According to Michelle Groome of NICD, the figures represent “very early stages of the fourth wave.”
The U.S. records first case of Omicron variant
As scientists continue to understand the risk level posed by the new variant, the U.S. has recorded its first case of the Omicron variant in California. The case has been reported in a vaccinated man who returned from South Africa, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The traveler returned to the U.S. on Nov 22 and was tested for COVID-19 on Nov 29.
The country already put stringent travel restrictions on the affected regions after the detection of the Omicron variant.
Even before the report of the Omicron case in California, the U.S. was already witnessing an upsurge in cases in the states of Michigan and other midwestern regions. So far, almost 99 percent of COVID-19 positive cases in the U.S. are due to the Delta variant.
Before the Omicron case was reported, Dr. Fauci on Sunday stated that the U.S. “has the potential of going into a fifth wave,” further reflecting worry on the high transmissibility of the mutating virus.
He said in a statement, “informed the president that while it will take approximately two more weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant, he continues to believe that existing vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases of Covid.”
U.K. record a worrying upsurge- calls for immediate booster shots
The United Kingdom has now recorded more than 32 cases of the Omicron variant after 10 new cases were reported on Wednesday.
Following the increasing numbers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued an immediate COVID-19 booster program, a “call to get jabs in the arms.” PM Johnson later announced his plan to vaccinate the entire adult population of the U.K. with booster shots by the end of January.
“It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally,” said Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency.