WHO says South Africa must be thanked not punished for reporting Omicron variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said the South African experts must be thanked and not punished for detecting the Omicron variant, which is tagged as very high global risk.

Previously, the WHO had said it has yet to determine whether the Omicron, which is first recorded in South Africa, has increased transmission or if it will cause severe infection.

“The emergence of the highly-mutated Omicron COVID-19 variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is. South Africa should be thanked for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalized,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing.

While some regions have stable trends for COVID-19 cases, the WHO chief still called for vigilance amid the Omicron variant.

“Instead of meeting in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are meeting as a fresh wave of cases and deaths crashes into Europe, with untold and uncounted deaths around the world,” he explained.

Although other regions are seeing declining or stable trends, if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that no region, no country, no community and no individual is safe until we are all safe,” he added.

Ghebreyesus also noted that the “highly-mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilois and precarious the situation is.”

Currently, the Omicron, which is tagged as a variant of concern, is still being studied whether it is associated with more transmission, severe infection, and risk of evading vaccines.

“Scientists at WHO and around the are working urgently to answer these questions,” Ghebreyesus said.–LDF, GMA News

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