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Omicron variant spreads to Portugal, Spain & Canada too, taking total count to over a dozen countries

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Omicron, first detected in South Africa, has now spread to over a dozen countries including Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Israel, Hong Kong and Australia.

Portugal, Sweden, Canada and Spain joined the list of countries to which the Omicron variant of coronavirus has spread, raising fresh concerns over the pandemic as the strain is potentially more dangerous than the dominant Delta variant.

Portugal detected 13 cases of the Omicron variant, all involving players and staff members of Lisbon soccer club Belenenses SAD after one player recently returned from South Africa, health authority DGS said.

Spain has detected its first case of the Omicron variant in a traveller coming from South Africa, El Pais newspaper reported.

Omicron, first detected in South Africa, has now spread to over a dozen countries including Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Israel, Hong Kong and Australia.

Scotland reported six cases of Omicron on Monday, some of which were not linked to travel in southern Africa. Britain had earlier announced three cases of the variant. The UK also announced that all adults would be eligible for a booster vaccine shot as part of the country’s response to the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has said the Omicron variant “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic”.

Biden urged Americans on Monday not to panic about the new Omicron variant and said the United States was making contingency plans with pharmaceutical companies in case the need for new vaccines arises.

He said the country would not go back to lockdowns to stop the spread of Omicron, and he would lay out his strategy on Thursday for combating the pandemic over the winter. He urged people to get vaccinated, get boosters and wear masks.

The new Covid-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" overall risk of global surge in infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.

"If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe," WHO said in a technical note.

 "Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic," it added.

Also read:  What you need to know about the new deadlier Omicron variant of COVID-19