US President Joe Biden has called the Omicron Covid-19 variant a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic” a day after it was detected in North America.
He said he saw no need for a new lockdown “for now… if people are vaccinated and wear their masks”.
Cases have been found in Canada, and the US has imposed travel bans on eight southern African countries.
Mr Biden added that pharmaceutical companies were making contingency plans for new jabs if they are needed.
At the White House on Monday, the president said it was “almost inevitable” that Omicron, first reported by South Africa, would be found in the US eventually.
“We’re going to fight and beat this new variant,” he said.