PRETORIA, November 29./TASS/. Omicron is potentially more transmittable than earlier coronavirus variants, University of KwaZulu-Natal epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim said on Monday.
The detection of Omicron has coincided with an extremely rapid increase in cases and hospital admissions in the South African province of Gauteng since mid-November, the Business Day daily quoted the scientist as saying.
The new coronavirus variant Omicron appears more transmissible than earlier lineages and is likely to send the reported number of daily cases surging past 10,000 by the end of the week, said Salim Abdool Karim, who previously co-chaired the South African health minister’s advisory committee on Covid-19.
Omicron was detected in Botswana and in South Africa last week and since then, it has been identified in at least 10 other countries, the paper said. It has tens of mutations, many of which are present in other variants causing concern, the South African epidemiologist stressed.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. It also said that the new variant has "a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning." "Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs," it said.
The south of Africa is the epicenter of the new variant. The highest figure of infections is reported currently from South Africa. According to reports, alone in the most densely populated province of Gauteng, 1,500 people were infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the past three days.