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WHO Warns Pandemic ‘Nowhere Near Over’ As Cases Soar in France, Germany and Brazil
The UN health chief warned against dismissing Omicron as mild, as the dominant Covid strain continues to flare new outbreaks from Latin America to East Asia after it was first detected in southern Africa in November.
Geneva: As COVID-19 cases soared and France, Germany and Brazil posted new records of infections in the past 24 hours, the World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic “is nowhere near over”. The health body’s intervention comes as some European nations saw record new case numbers. While France reported nearly half a million new daily cases on Tuesday, Germany on the other hand recorded over 100,000 new infections within 24 hours, for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Speaking to reporters from the agency headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This pandemic is nowhere near over.”
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The UN health chief warned against dismissing Omicron as mild, as the dominant Covid strain continues to flare new outbreaks from Latin America to East Asia after it was first detected in southern Africa in November. “Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading,” he said.
While the variant may prove to be less severe on average, “the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading,” he said. “Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities,” added the WHO Chief.
Tedros also warned global leaders that “with the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge, which is why tracking and assessment remain critical”. “I remain particularly concerned about many countries that have low vaccination rates, as people are many times more at risk of severe illness and death if they are unvaccinated,” he added.
Meanwhile, the WHO’s emergencies director, Dr Mike Ryan, also warned that Omicron’s increased transmissibility is likely to drive a rise in hospitalisations and deaths, especially in nations where fewer people are vaccinated. “An exponential rise in cases, regardless of the severity of the individual variants, leads to inevitable increase in hospitalisations and deaths,” he said.
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