'Omicron' is potentially more contagious than previous variants of the disease: WHO chief scientist
New Delhi, Nov 28: A new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529, which is blamed for surge in South Aftrica coronavirus cases could be more transmissible than Delta and we need to be more careful, following protocols including masking and social distancing, said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization.
Speaking to NDTV, the WHO scientist said, 'Omicron' could be more transmissible than Delta, though one can't say anything authoritatively yet, adding that we will know more about the strain in a few days.
She also suggested fully vaccinating all adults, avoiding mass gatherings, wider genome sequencing, and closely monitoring any unusual uptick in cases should be done to keep 'Omicron' - the new variant of concern at bay.
The new Covid-19 variant, named Omnicron, has become a reason to worry for the world which has been returning to normalcy after being hit by a few waves of the pandemic.
The newly-found strain is detected in Africa and the Union Health Ministry has put the countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel in the 'at-risk' category.
Countries around the world are currently racing to introduce travel bans and restrictions on southern African countries in an effort to contain Omicron's spread.
European countries along with the UK have banned travel to and from South Africa and neighbouring countries of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, as well as Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), both of which are landlocked within South Africa.
Other countries include Mauritius, Israel, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the US, Canada and the Netherlands. Many other countries followed suit, most of them indicating that only their own citizens would be allowed back, subject to a quarantine period.
In New Delhi, the Indian government asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where the new variant has been detected.