The COVID-19 Omicron variant has become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States - just about 20 days after the first case was reported in the country.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 73 percent of new COVID-19 cases reported as of last Friday involved the new variant.

With this, Omicron has overtaken the Delta variant, which had been the dominant strain in the US since July.

Authorities have also recorded the first Omicron-related death in the country, involving a 50-something-year-old man in Texas, who was unvaccinated and had already contracted the coronavirus twice.

The man also had underlying health conditions, reported CNN.

According to the report, the Omicron strain also accounted to more than 90 per cent of new cases in certain parts of the country, such as New York and New Jersey, as well as parts of the Midwest, the South, and the Pacific Northwest.

Early reports suggest that the Omicron variant caused milder illness than previous strains, but there is still very little data to support it. Experts are still baffled with the variant's high transmissibility, and ability to evade the body's immune defenses.

The Omicron variant has spread to at least 89 countries since it was first discovered in South Africa on November 24.

In Malaysia, there have been 13 cases of the Omicron variant reported thus far.

The emergence of the highly transmissible variant has caused the government to impose additional safety measures, such as barring large gatherings for the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations, among others.

Putrajaya has also made it mandatory for Sinovac vaccine recipients, as well as recipients of other vaccines aged 60 years and above, to get their booster shots the latest by February next year, failing which they will lose their fully vaccinated status.

Source: CNN
Photo source: Reuters