COVID-19 pandemic nowhere near over, says WHO; cases in France & Germany touch record high

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New Delhi: “This (COVID-19) pandemic is nowhere near over,” World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva and cautioned world leaders against the assumption that the newly dominant Omicron variant of COVID-19 is milder and has eliminated the threat posed by the virus.

His announcement comes as European nations saw a record spike in numbers and France reported nearly half a million new daily cases on Tuesday.

The situation has gotten alarming as Europe sees a spike in new cases of the virus. Germany has been recording over one hundred thousand cases, France reporting nearly half a million cases in the last 24 hours. 

Speaking during a news conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Dr Tedros said the Omicron variant has led to 18 million infections in the last one week.

“Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities,” Dr Tedros said, adding that with the incredible growth of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, new variants are likely to emerge. 

The WHO chief also tweeted, “Omicron continues to sweep the. I remain concerned about countries with low vaccination rates, as unvaccinated people are many times more at risk of severe illness & death. I urge everyone to do their best to reduce risk of infection & help take pressure off health systems.”

 

WHO emergencies director, Dr Mike Ryan, on his part too warned that Omicron’s easy transmissibility is likely to drive a rise in hospitalisations and deaths. According to him, this holds special truth for places where fewer people are vaccinated.

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According to Ryan, an exponential rise in cases, regardless of the severity of the individual variants, leads to inevitable increase in hospitalisation and deaths. 

As per reports, during the event, Ryan also said, “Yes, we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year,” adding that this could only be done by addressing longstanding inequities in various areas of society, such as fair access to vaccines and health care.

first published:Jan. 19, 2022, 8:39 p.m.

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