The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised countries not to panic, but prepare for the likely spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

WHO spokesperson, Christian Lindmeier, stated this while speaking in Geneva.

Lindmeier noted that data suggesting that Omicron was highly transmissible was only preliminary.

The UN health agency repeated that it would take another two weeks before more is known about how transmissible and how dangerous it actually is.

He also repeated WHO advice against blanket travel bans, except for countries whose health systems were unable to withstand a surge in infections.

“It is much more preferred to prepare your country, your health system to possibly incoming cases because we can be pretty sure that this Omicron variant will spread around,” he said.

The Delta mutation – declared a variant of concern this summer – is now “predominant”, Lindmeier added, “with over 90 per cent all around the world.

“This is how this virus behaves and we will not most likely be able to keep it out of individual countries.”

The WHO official also cautioned against knee-jerk reactions to reports that Omicron had continued to spread.