Global alarm: WHO calls new strain a Variant of Concern
The Indian Express Delhi|November 27, 2021
Named Omicron, strain seen in more countries; WHO says setback to pandemic recovery
ANURADHA MASCARENHAS & AMITABH SINHA

FEARS THAT a new, fast-spreading coronavirus variant could potentially be more dangerous than even the Delta variant prompted several countries to impose restrictions on travel from affected regions, and caused stock markets across the globe to crash.

By evening, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had designated this variant, B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern (VOC), and given it the name Omicron.

The variant, which was announced by scientists in South Africa on Thursday, was detected in two more countries, Israel and Belgium. Botswana and Hong Kong are the other countries where the variant has been found.

The WHO said about 100 genome sequences of the variant have been reported so far. Many of the infected people were fully vaccinated, with at least one person in Israel having also received a third, booster, dose of vaccine.

India, which on Friday announced resumption of routine international air services from December 15, said it would step up screening of flyers, especially those from affected countries.

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