The World Health Organization is urging countries to start widely testing in communities to gauge whether the new omicron variant is circulating, in a technical document it released on Sunday. “Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibily transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of omicron at the global level is high. Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of COVID-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors including where suges may take place. The overall global risk to the new VOC [variant of concern] omicron is assessed as very high.” The body urged member states to not only start testing widely, but to accelerate vaccination coverage as fast as possible, espcially among high-risk individuals. Masks, distancing, ventilation of outdoor spaces and crowd avoidance are among the measures country should follow, as well as a risk-based approach to adjust international travel measures in a timely manner.
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