On Friday, the World Health Organisation announced that it had designated the newly identified coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529. The variant, named Omicron, was said to be a thing of concern by the W.H.O.
The new variant was discovered by South African health authorities and, since then it has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium.
As Covid-19 remains a thing of concern, many countries around the world have taken action by banning travelers from several southern African countries.
As the disease continues to spread rapidly in parts of South Africa, scientists are concerned about its unusually high number of mutations which could make it more transferable and result in immune evasion.
The World Health Organisation has urged countries to be alert and enhance their surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand the coronavirus variants.
South African Minister of Health Joe Phaahla on Thursday stressed that it was unclear where the variant first emerged.
“Initially it looked like some cluster outbreaks, but from yesterday, the indication came from our scientists from the Network of Genomic Surveillance that they were observing a new variant.” He said.