Zero deaths from Omicron so far, says WHO

Zero deaths from Omicron so far, says WHO

THERE have been no recorded deaths from the Omicron variant so far, the World Health Organisation has confirmed.

The lack of deaths may come as a surprise given that the new variant has been detected in over 38 countries and a further 75 cases have been reported in England as of Friday night.

Health authorities around the world continue scrambling to try and stem the spread of the heavily mutated, but as of yet, not highly fatal, COVID-19 strain.

The United States and Australia are the latest additions to the list of countries reporting locally transmitted Omicron cases.

There are now over three million cases in South Africa, where the new strain was first detected on 24 November.

Despite this, the WHO has warned it may take several weeks to determine how infectious the Omicron variant is, as well as how likely it is to cause severe illness and the robustness of the protection offered by current vaccines.

"We're going to get the answers that everybody out there needs," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said.

"We need to trust in the science now and be patient and not be fearful."

The new variant account for more than half of Europe’s COVID cases in the next few months, the WHO said.

International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva warned on Friday that it could also derail the global economic recovery from the slump caused by Covid-19 lockdowns.

“Even before the arrival of this new variant, we were concerned that the recovery, while it continues, is losing somewhat momentum,” she said.

“A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence.”

According to the WHO, almost 264 million people have been infected by Covid-19 since the virus was first detected in the Chinese city Wuhan in late 2019.

Of those confirmed cases, there have been just over 5.2 million deaths.

As of 3 December 2021, just under eight billion vaccine doses have been administered.