New, heavily mutated COVID-19 variant detected in more countries as scientists race to find answers

Iran PressEurope: The World Health Organization has urged caution after two South African health experts, including the doctor who first sounded the alarm about the Omicron variant, indicated that symptoms linked to the coronavirus strain have been mild so far.

The WHO’s statement came as the new, heavily mutated COVID-19 variant spread across the globe, shutting borders and renewing curbs.

“Understanding the level of severity of the omicron variant will take days to several weeks,” WHO said in a statement Sunday, adding that “there is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron are different from those from other variants”.

South Africa, which first identified the new variant, currently has 3,220 people with the coronavirus infection overall, though there’s been no real uptick in hospitalizations, Barry Schoub, chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said on Sunday.

“The cases that have occurred so far have all been mild cases, mild-to-moderate cases, and that’s a good sign,” said Schoub, adding that it was still early days and nothing was certain yet.

The WHO said there was preliminary data showing increasing hospitalisations, “but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron”.

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