Ten African countries account for 46% of Omicron cases reported globally, according to the World Health Organization.
It says the majority of these countries are within southern Africa, where scientists are being extra-vigilant for other cases and are analysing samples to check for changes to the virus.
Hospitalisation rates and severe cases remain low in South Africa, local data shows. But research is still ongoing, the WHO says.
No coronavirus deaths have been linked to the Omicron variant and travel bans won’t stop the virus from circulating, the global health body says.
Getting vaccines into people’s arms will prevent the virus from mutating further, says the WHO.
In Africa, only Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, Seychelles, Cape Verde and Botswana have reached the global target of vaccinating 40% of their populations by the end of this year.
Many African countries are yet to administer jabs for logistical reasons, while public scepticism about getting the vaccine remains a barrier.