The South African doctor who alerted World Health Organization authorities about the Omicron variant of coronavirus is calling for calm.
Doctor Angelique Coetzee is the head of the South Africa's Medical Association and has been investigating the strain since late November when the first cases started coming through.
She revealed how many patients with Omicron were reporting 'mild' symptoms compared to the Delta variant.
However, she's been shocked to see the UK introduce new restrictions on travel and on people's livelihoods due to the threat of the variant.
Dr Coetzee said more data is needed to understand how deadly Omicron is before the British government should be making dramatic decisions.
"The UK Government's handling of what Boris Johnson warned will be a 'tidal wave' of Omicron infections verges on hysteria," Dr Coetzee wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
"Yet you only have to look at the picture in South Africa, where the world's first known cases of Omicron were spotted, to realise this reaction is out of all proportion to the risks posed by this variant."
She explained how she has no regrets about raising the alarm to The WHO about the variant but has been 'astonished by the extraordinary worldwide reaction'.
Dr Coetzee was surprised at seeing several countries, including the UK, introduce new travel restrictions for people coming from multiple African nations.
"I find myself even more astonished by the UK Government's latest pronouncements, given what has become apparent about Omicron in the past four weeks,"
"My first Omicron case, a young man who came into my surgery, initially thought he had been in the sun too long after working out."
She added: "To date, some 23.5 million Britons have had all three vaccinations, so it's completely over the top to be talking about Plan Cs or lockdowns.
"Indeed, I am disappointed by such knee-jerk reactions. They bear no relation to what we're seeing in surgeries in South Africa."
However, that's a very different story compared to what The World Health Organization is saying.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained how Omicron has now been detected in 77 countries after only just being discovered late last month.
The health body chief has also told everyone that they need to be taking Omicron seriously.
Credit: Fabrice Coffrini/ Pool via REUTERS
"The reality is that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn't been detected yet," he said. "Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant.
"We're concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild. Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril.
"Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems."
There are fears Omicron could already be wreaking havoc in the UK, with the strain accounting for 20 per cent of current cases in England.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there are more than 4,700 active Omicron cases, however the UK's health agency predicts that number could be up to 20 times higher.
Recent modelling has predicted there could be one million Omicron infections in the UK by the end of the year.
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