What do we know about the Omicron variant? | Updated: 2021-11-30 14:04

On November 26, the World Health Organization has officially designated a new strain of novel coronavirus as the Omicron variant and categorized it as a Variant of Concern.

The strain has a large number of mutations and was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24.

So, what do we know about the Omicron variant?

A staff member helps a resident to present personal health information at a testing site in Manzhouli, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Nov 29, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

1. How widespread is the Omicron variant?

As of Tuesday, the Omicron strain had spread to at least 17 countries, with South Africa as the most affected country, where the confirmed number of cases has reached 77.

2. How potent is the Omicron variant?

According to the announcement made by WHO, it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta.

3. What are the symptoms of the Omicron variant?

While symptoms linked to the variant have been described as "extremely mild" by the South African doctor who first raised attention over the new strain, it is currently still unknown whether this strain will cause severe symptoms

Reported symptoms include body aches, pains, headache, "scratchy throat", and feelings of extreme tiredness.

However, symptoms that have been associated with previous strains of the virus, such as cough and loss of taste or smell, are not present.

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