(Bloomberg) -- Omicron, the new coronavirus variant, appears to be more transmissible than its predecessors, but existing vaccines are still likely to offer good protection against severe illness and death, according to scientists advising the South African government.  

Salim Karim, a South African clinical infectious disease epidemiologist, said Monday that there is no need to panic. While an increased number of cases will put pressure on hospitals, the government and experts are working fast to learn more.

“We know how to assess this and adjust our strategies accordingly,” he said during an online briefing.

The new strain, first called B.1.1.529, was identified late last week, sparking panic on equity markets, while multiple governments banned travel from South Africa and a number of neighboring countries. 

South Africa anticipates that it will be detecting more than 10,000 new coronavairus cases by the end of the week, up from fewer than 3,000 on Saturday, with hospital admissions already showing a slight increase.

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