WHO classes new South African variant as ‘of concern’

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The World Health Organization has said that the latest Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been classed as a “variant of concern”.

In an update this evening, the WHO said the strain had been given the name ‘Omicron’.

It also said preliminary evidence suggests the variant carries higher risk of reinfection than other variants of concern.

“Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology … the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, named Omicron,” the UN health agency said in a statement.