What we do & don't know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant
More countries around the world have now reported positive cases.
Just as we thought life was returning to normal, a new COVID-19 variant is causing concern right around the globe.
It’s called ‘Omicron’ and it was first discovered in southern Africa.
South Africa's health minister says scientists were concerned about it due to its high number of mutations and how it spreads quickly among young people.
The country's daily cases have been rising, and officials believe that’s due to the new variant.
The World Health Organisation says viruses do evolve over time, but when its ability to spread or cause serious illness changes, that’s when it starts to be labelled a “variant of concern.”
It’s feared the new variant could be more transmissible.
Health experts say the world should remain cautious, with not much known about Omicron at this time - and how it reacts to the vaccine.
Already, cases have been confirmed in several countries outside of Africa - including Hong Kong, England & Italy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says anyone arriving in the UK now will be asked to take a PCR test on the second day & must self-isolate until they get a negative test result.
Israel has closed its border to all foreigners for 2 weeks, and the European Union has announced travel restrictions for multiple countries, with the US & Canada also doing the same.
Australian health officials have now announced their own measures, revealing new travel & quarantine rules for 9 countries.
Even with the new measures in place, some fear it’s too late to stop the spread - and the hope now is that vaccines will be able to contain it.
For live updates on the Omicron COVID-19 variant, click here.
Watch our full report here.