WHO Says Omicron Is 'Spreading At A Faster Rate Than Any Covid-19 Variant' Ever
The World Health Organization has revealed the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world.
While data has yet to explain whether this latest strain of Covid-19 is any more dangerous or deadly, there's no denying that its transmissibility is high.
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.
"And 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."
The health body chief has also told everyone that they need to be taking Omicron seriously.
Initial data from South Africa indicated the variant could be 'mild' compared to other strains like Delta, however that shouldn't mean it's to be taken any lighter.
"We're concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild," Dr Tedros said. "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."
It comes as a grim prediction for New South Wales could soon see tens of thousands of cases of coronavirus every day.
The Australian state has today (December 15) pulled back restrictions for individuals, allowing unvaccinated residents to go to cafes, pubs and restaurants.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned that as the state gradually opens up internally, domestically and internationally, we could be seeing loads of new cases.
"What they're telling us is that by the end of January we could be looking at 25,000 cases of the virus every single day," he said.
"So that takes us to about 175,000 in a week - that's one big difference from 1,360 today - which is already a cause for concern.
"Stay outside if you can, wear those masks, get tested if you have any viral symptoms at all and just be careful about yourself and also the community. Thank you."
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.
While New South Wales could have 25,000 cases day, recent modelling has predicted there could be one million Omicron infections in the UK by the end of the year.
The UK has reintroduced restrictions in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.