New Covid variant: Chris Whitty on why scientists are concerned about new Covid variant

Professor Whitty says several cases of the new variant, Omicron, have been imported into other countries from southern Africa, and the spread is expected to continue.

He says the concern over the new variant is linked to the rapid spread, as illustrated in the Gauteng province in South Africa where it was first detected.

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‘Be vigilant’, WHO tells Southeast Asia countries amid case surge, emergence of new variant, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Amid the detection of a new coronavirus variant and surge in cases elsewhere, the WHO Saturday asked countries in the southeast Asia region to scale up surveillance, strengthen public health and social measures, and enhance vaccination coverage.

The global health body said festivities and celebrations must include all precautionary measures and crowds and large gatherings must be avoided.

“At no cost should we let our guards down,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO, South-East Asia Region.

“Though COVID-19 cases have been declining in most countries of our Region, the surge in cases elsewhere in the world and confirmation of a new Variant of Concern, is a reminder of the persisting risk and the need for us to continue to do our best to protect against the virus and prevent its spread,” she said in a statement.

Countries must enhance surveillance and sequencing, she said.

Based on updated information on circulating variants and response capacities, they should assess the risk of importation through international travel and take measures accordingly, she said.

Comprehensive and tailored public health and social measures to prevent transmission must continue, Singh stressed, noting that the earlier the protective measures are implemented, the less restrictive they

View More ‘Be vigilant’, WHO tells Southeast Asia countries amid case surge, emergence of new variant, Health News, ET HealthWorld