On November 24, 2021 the B.1.1.529 variant or Omicron was initially reported from South Africa to the World Health Organisation, (WHO). The epidemiological situation has been marked by three different peaks in reported cases, the most recent of which was the Delta variant.

According to WHO there are numerous mutations in the Omicron variation, some are a major cause for concern. In comparison, to other VOCs, preliminary research suggests that this variant has a higher risk of reinfection. And in basically all of South Africa’s provinces, the number of occurrences with this variation appears to be increasing.

The World Health Organization is encouraging countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants. They are also urging for the submission of complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.

In the meantime, in an effort to curb the spread of a new coronavirus type, dozens of countries around the world, including the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, have imposed travel bans on a number of southern African countries.

This comes as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC) has warned that the new variety is likely to spread swiftly throughout the EU and may be immune to vaccine protection.