Pandemic ‘nowhere near over’: WHO chief warns against assumption that Omicron is milder

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Jan 19, 2022, 03:57 PM(IST)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there were indications that the Omicron-fuelled surge of Covid cases may have peaked in some countries Photograph:( AFP )

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Tedros also raised concern about low vaccination coverage in some countries, saying that there was an urgent need to remove the pressure building on health systems

World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned global leaders that Covid pandemic “is nowhere near over” adding that Omicron variant is causing hospitalisations and deaths the world over.

Tedros has also cautioned against the assumption that the fast-spreading Omicron variant is significantly milder and has eliminated the threat posed by the virus.

“Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities," Tedros said late on Tuesday.

"Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading, hurts the overall response and costs more lives," he added.

He cautioned global leaders that “with the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge, which is why tracking and assessment remain critical”.

Tedros said there were indications that the Omicron-fuelled surge of Covid cases may have peaked in some countries. “Now is not the time to give up and wave the white flag,” he said.

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Tedros also raised concern about low vaccination coverage in some countries, saying that there was an urgent need to remove the pressure building on health systems.

“We can still significantly reduce the impact of the current wave by sharing and using health tools effectively, and implementing public health and social measures that we know work," Tedros said.

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The latest warning comes on the backdrop of Europe reporting a record number of Covid infections in the past month.

Europe recorded five million cases last week and the WHO has predicted that Omicron could infect half of all Europeans by March, filling hospitals across the continent.

Germany on Tuesday recorded 112,323 coronavirus cases and 239 deaths, officials said, with Omicron found in more than 70 per cent of the infections.

Brazil has registered a new record number of daily cases of more than 137,000 on Tuesday.

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And in the Asia-pacific region, Japan has tightened restrictions across the country, including Tokyo, as it battles record infections fuelled by Omicron.

 While China has partially relaxed transport restrictions in the megacity of Xi’an where millions have been confined to their homes for weeks.

India, too, on Wednesday reported 2,82,970 fresh Covid cases in the last 24 hours, which is a rise of over 18 per cent from the previous day's count.

(With inputs from agencies)

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