Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Friday that the organization has "not encountered reports of Omicron-related mortality yet," as he set down the agency's conclusion on the new strain's reaction.
Lindmeier gave an update on the spread of the new Covid-19 strain during a UN briefing, after the WHO designated it as a "variant of concern." Despite the use of different measures aimed at slowing the virus' transmission, he cautioned that vaccine producers may need to adapt their existing vaccines to battle new mutations.
In response to concerns about the new strain, Lindmeier stated that the WHO has "not encountered instances of Omicron-related mortality," even though it is thought to be more infectious than the common Delta strain.
Takeshi Kasai, the agency's Western Pacific director, asked countries to reconsider their strategy to deal with the stress.
“Border controls can buy time but every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases,” he told reporters, warning that governments “should not only rely on border measures” to halt Omicron’s spread.
Instead, Kasai urged officials to focus on properly vaccinating susceptible persons and reverting to preventative measures such as mask usage and social separation to limit the possibility of transmission.
The WHO's announcement on Omicron comes after South African health officials expressed alarm that it is reinfecting patients at three times the rate of other strains, despite earlier infections providing protection.