'An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled': WHO chief

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Dec 21, 2021, 09:13 AM(IST)

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is seen on a giant screen during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on December 20, 2021. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Omicron is infecting those who have been vaccinated, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and might double its infections every 1.5 to three days.

With the COVID-19 Omicron variant continuing to spread and relatives and friends intending to get together over the holidays, the head of the World Health Organization has cautioned that celebrations may need to be cancelled.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in Geneva, remarked, "An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled. It’s better to cancel now and celebrate later, than to celebrate now and grieve later."

"There can be no doubt that increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems, and more deaths,", he said.

"All of us are sick of this pandemic. All of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal."

Also read | Omicron: Within a week, the strain increased from 3% to 73% of US COVID-19 cases

"The fastest way to do that is for all of us—leaders and individuals—to make the difficult decisions that must be made to protect ourselves and others."

Watch | Europe weighs Christmas restrictions amid Omicron scare

According to Tedros, the Omicron form is spreading quicker than the Delta variant and is infecting patients who have already been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 illness.

ALSO READ | ‘A lot of uncertainty’: COVID-19 surge puts many Americans on edge about travelling

According to experts, the variant is able to evade some immune responses, implying that the booster programmes being implemented in many nations should target people with weakened immune systems. 

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of almost 3.3 million people this year, more than HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined in 2020, and Africa is now facing a sharp wave of infections, mostly driven by the Omicron variant.

ALSO READ | Omicron: Thailand may reintroduce mandatory quarantine for foreign travellers

Tedros reminded reporters that just a month ago, Africa was reporting its lowest number of cases in 18 months, while this week it reported the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far. 

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App