FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows test tubes labelled
FILE PHOTO: Test tubes labelled "COVID-19 Test Positive" are seen in front of displayed words "OMICRON SARS-COV-2" in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Omicron has been reported in at least 89 countries

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading faster than the Delta variant and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the Covid-19 disease, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

“There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant,” WHO Director-Deneral Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing for Geneva-based journalists, held at its new headquarters building.

“And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 could be infected or re-infected,” Tedros said.

Meanwhile, Britain refused to rule out curbs on gatherings on Monday, a day after the Netherlands imposed a fourth lockdown prompted by the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus and as other European countries considered putting a squeeze on Christmas.

Omicron infections are multiplying rapidly across Europe and the United States, doubling every two or three days in London and elsewhere and taking a heavy toll on financial markets which fear the impact on the global economic recovery.

The variant was first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong and has so far been reported in at least 89 countries.

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