OMICRON is set to infect more than half of Europeans, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday.

Europe saw more than seven million newly-reported cases in the first week of the year, more than doubling over a two-week period, WHO’s Europe director Hans Kluge said.

“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next 6-8 weeks,” Kluge said, referring to a research centre at the University of Washington.

Fifty out of 53 countries in Europe and Asia have logged cases of the more infectious variant, Kluge said. Evidence is emerging that Omicron is affecting the upper respiratory tract more than the lungs, causing milder symptoms than previous variants.But WHO has cautioned more studies were still needed to prove this. – REUTERS