The head of EU’s public health agency confirmed 42 cases of infection with Omicron variant in ten EU countries.
Andrea Ammon, who chairs the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), affirmed that EU authorities were analysing another six “probable” cases.
He further said that confirmed cases were mild or without symptoms.
Omicron cases have already been registered in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Botswana, Germany. Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the UK and Australia also confirmed first cases.
The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from Omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence. It further said it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”
The new variant was first identified in Botswana, before it rapidly outcompeting other versions of the virus in the region of South Africa that includes Johannesburg.
A top health official calls it “the most significant variant” to date, but the UK didn’t confirm any cases to date.
“It is bad news, but it’s not doomsday,” an Oxford scientist tells the BBC.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the UK is taking a “safety-first approach” in regard to the travel ban.
Nine countries including Germany, Italy, Israel and Singapore have also restricted travel.
The World Health Organization will hold a special meeting later today to discuss the variant.