WHO Calls New Coronavirus Strain ‘Variant of Concern’ And Names It Omicron

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) – The United Nations health body said Friday the new coronavirus variant is “a variant of concern” and named it Omicron.

The World Health Organization urged against hasty travel curbs while gathering more data, though there were signs European Union countries rushed to introduce restrictions.

Omicron, previously mentioned as B.1.1.529 coronavirus was first discovered in South Africa and may spread more quickly than other forms, the WHO said.

The WHO announced its conclusions following an urgent meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, over the risks posed by the Omicron variant.

The United States joined the European Union in restricting travel from South Africa and nearby nations effective Monday. A Biden official said the decision was made “implemented out of an abundance of caution in light of a new Covid-19 variant circulating in southern Africa.”

The limitations will apply to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.

Separately, Canada and Britain said they too would ban flights from southern Africa.

Yet, the WHO and some epidemiologists warned travel curbs might be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally. “It’s really important that there are no knee-jerk responses here,” added the WHO’s emergencies director Mike Ryan.

The new mutations were first discovered in South Africa and have since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, and Hong Kong.

News about the new strain rattled financial markets worldwide. Stocks tumbled in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 1,000 points before an afternoon uptick.

The S&P 500 index closed down 2.3 percent, its worst day since February. The price of oil plunged about 13 percent.

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