Dec 18, 2021 - Health

WHO: Omicron cases doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in places with local spread

People are seen wearing face masks as they walk in a pedestrian street among shops and Christmas decorations in the city of Cologne, western Germany, on December 18, 2021.

People wear face masks as they walk in a pedestrian street in the city of Cologne, Germany, on Dec. 18. Photo: Ina FassBender/AFP

The Omicron variant has been detected in 89 countries and has a "substantial growth advantage" over the Delta variant, the World Health Organization announced.

State of play: COVID-19 cases detected with the newest variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in areas where there is community spread, WHO said.

  • "Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high levels of population immunity," said the organization. It added: "Given current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace Delta where community transmission occurs."

The big picture: Coronavirus cases are surging across Europe, largely driven by the Omicron variant, leading many countries to impose tighter restrictions in an effort to curb the virus.

  • The surge in cases in London, where Omicron has officially replaced Delta, provides a glimpse into what is likely to come for parts of the U.S., Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.
  • Cases in the U.S. are rising rapidly, with both New York and Washington, D.C., reporting record daily numbers Friday — and there's no reason to think they've peaked yet, Owens writes.

Go deeper: The UK's Omicron warning for America

Go deeper