GENEVA: An advisory panel of the World Health Organisation on Friday classified the worrying new Covid variant detected in South Africa as a highly transmissible virus of concern, naming it Omicron under its Greek letter system.

The UN health agency said early evidence on the variant, until now known by the technical term B.1.1.529, has shown an increased risk of reinfection compared to other highly transmissible variants, indicating that people who contracted Covid and recovered could be more subject to catching it again with Omicron.

The WHO suggested that the variant could pose greater risks than the delta variant, which was first detected in India and has been causing ravages worldwide.

The WHO announcement marks the first time in months that it has classified a Covid variant as a highly-transmissible variant of concern. The classification also applies to delta, which has become the world’s most prevalent variant.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021

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