The European Union's public health agency, the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), said on Thursday that the omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all Covid-19 infections in Europe within a few months.
"Based on mathematical modelling conducted by ECDC, there are indications that omicron could cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months," it said in a document.
There is no conclusive evidence about Omicron's transmissibility so far but the World Health Organization's lead person on Covid-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said on Wednesday the agency expected to have data on this within days.
Europe has so far recorded a few dozens of infections with the omicron variant, which was first detected in southern Africa last month.
German health authorities reported the first confirmed case of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the capital Berlin, only days after several cases were detected in southern states.
Dilek Kalayci, health senator in the state government of Berlin, said there were also several more suspected cases of the new Omicron strain in the city of 3.6 million people.
So far, little is known about the new variant, but there is a risk of a further spike in infections due to a faster spread of the virus, Kalayci said in a tweet. “My plea: Reduce contacts! Keep distance! Wear a mask!”, she added.
On Wednesday, the public health office in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said four people had tested positive for the Omicron variant even though they were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. They had only mild symptoms.