The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Friday Omicron has spread over 18 European countries and 16 non-European countries as of that morning.
That has pushed countries to tighten their virus curbs even further, including Norway, which will require all people entering the country to get a COVID test 24 hours prior to arrival regardless of their vaccine status.
To enter Sweden, a negative PCR test result will now be necessary.
Over in the UK, 12 out of 22 Omicron cases reported up until this Tuesday were breakthrough infections.
But death caused by the new variant is yet to be reported.
WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier, speaking to reporters in Geneva on Friday, stressed that Omicron might be on the rise, but at this point, the dominant variant remains Delta.
That's also what the U.S. CDC chief said on the same day, even as variant cases are showing up in more states.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CNN that Omicron could become the dominant variant but noted that Delta is the main problem right now.
To tame the worrisome new variant, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is laying the groundwork for the rapid review of Omicron-targeted vaccines and drugs if they turn out to be needed.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that people familiar with the matter said the agency has been setting guidelines for the studies and data needed to swiftly evaluate products targeting the latest variant.
In fact, reports say pharmaceutical companies would need just around three months to develop a new vaccine and conduct clinical trials if new regulations issued by the FDA come into effect.
Kim Dami, Arirang News