Immunologist Aleksandar Petlickovski warned citizens not to drop their guard ahead of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, saying that while it may be less severe than previous strains, there is no guarantee how the organism will react.

Petlickovski, who heads the Immunology Institute in Skopje, called on citizens to swap their cloth masks with the more secure N-95 masks.

People are dying from the illness. We don’t know when this strain will be swapped with another, potentially deadlier variant. When it does, it will be too late to ask the public to begin using masks again. The recommendations are that you use efficient masks, surgical N-95 masks, Petlickovski said.

Macedonia is now going through a major new wave of the illness, that started with the relaxed New Year’s Eve celebrations. Over 2,000 citizens were diagnosed with the illness today, which is a record infection rate.