Omicron not mild, hospitalising and killing people: WHO chief

WHO Director General said that hospitals are becoming overcrowded and understaffed

Geneva: While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as ‘mild’ as just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.

In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world, he stressed.

“Hospitals are becoming overcrowded and understaffed, which further results in preventable deaths from not only Covid-19 but other diseases and injuries where patients cannot receive timely care,” said Ghebreyesus.

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According to him, first-generation vaccines may not stop all infections and transmission but they remain highly effective in reducing hospitalisation and death from this virus.

“So as well as vaccination, public health social measures, including the wearing of well-fitting masks, distancing, avoiding crowds and improving and investing in ventilation are important for limiting transmission,” he stressed.

At the current pace of vaccine rollout, 109 countries would miss out on fully vaccinating 70 per cent of their populations by the start of July 2022.

Last week, the highest number of Covid-19 cases were reported so far in the pandemic.

“And we know, for certain, that this is an underestimate of cases because reported numbers do not reflect the backlog of testing around the holidays, the number of positive self-tests not registered, and burdened surveillance systems that miss cases around the word,” said the WHO Director General.

Amid an ongoing resurgence across the world, the global coronavirus caseload has topped 297 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 5.46 million and vaccinations to over 9.27 billion, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Thursday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and the death toll stood at 297,504,250 and 5,464,532, respectively, while the total number of vaccine doses administered has increased to 9,279,347,173.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 57,649,131 and 832,061, according to the CSSE. The second worst hit country in terms of cases is India (35,018,358 infections and 482,551 deaths), followed by Brazil (22,328,252 infections and 619,654 deaths).

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