Omicron could spread faster, its severity still not certain: WHO

A team of Healthcare workers designated to perform COVID tests of local populace in Kashmir villages. [FPK File Photo]

The World Health Organization says early evidence suggests the omicron variant may be spreading faster than the highly transmissible delta variant but brings with it less severe coronavirus disease – though it’s too early to make firm conclusions, international media reported on Thursday.

The comments come among swirling concerns about the new variant that first emerged in southern Africa last month, prompting some countries to shut their borders and rattling stock markets fearful of the long-term impact of a possible new variant of the virus that has already infected at least 267 million people and killed more than 5.2 million.

Dr Michael Ryan, WHO’s chief of emergencies, told reporters Wednesday that data about the omicron variant so far is pointing to a virus that’s efficiently transmitting and probably more efficiently transmitting than even the delta variant, which is by far the most widespread and deadly version.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for COVID at the UN health agency, cautioned that it was too early to determine the severity of disease caused by omicron, saying there’s only anecdotal information about that for now.

With 9,419 more people testing positive for COVID in a day, India’s infection tally rose to 3,46,66,241, while the active cases increased to 94,742, according to India’s Health Ministry’s data updated on Thursday.

The death toll climbed to 4,74,111 after 159 fresh fatalities were reported, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been recorded below 10,000 for 13 straight days and less than 50,000 for 165 consecutive days now.

The active cases have increased to 94,742 comprising 0.27 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID recovery rate was recorded at 98.36 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the Health Ministry said.

An increase of 1,009 cases has been recorded in the active COVID caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.73 per cent. It has been less than 2 per cent for the last 66 days.


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