The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant in countries with documented community transmission, with the number of cases doubling in 1.5 to 3 days, said the World Health Organization (WHO).
In an update on Saturday, WHO said Omicron has been reported in 89 countries.
Omicron’s “substantial growth advantage” over the Delta variant means it is likely to soon overtake delta as the dominant form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally, the UN health agency said.
WHO noted that Omicron is spreading rapidly even in countries with high vaccination rates or where a significant proportion of the population has recovered from Covid-19.
WHO designated Omicron a variant of concern on 26 November, soon after it was first detected by scientists in South Africa, and much is still not known about it.
Scientists remain uncertain how dangerous it is, but early data suggests it can be more resistant to vaccines and more transmissible than the Delta strain.
The Netherlands announced a four-week lockdown starting Sunday amid concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Meanwhile, one of the US’s biggest media corporations, Cable News Network (CNN), shut down its offices due to the spike in Covid-19 cases.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the media outlet took the decision for “nonessential employees” as Omicron cases are rapidly spreading across the country.
The cable network employees were allowed to work from the office on a voluntary basis before the cases began rising, WSJ said.