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Don’t Dismiss Omicron as Mild

WHO Issues Strong Warning

The sheer numbers could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems, says Dr Tedros

By B N KUMAR

MUMBAI, Dec 15 (The CONNECT) - With as many as 77 countries reporting the cases of Omicron, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed its concern over people dismissions is as mild.

“Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant,” cautioned WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and said “We’re concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild.”

“Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril,” Dr Tedros said addressing the global media in a virtual meet last night (IST)

Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems, he said and made it clear that vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis.

“Countries can – and must – prevent the spread of Omicron with measures that work today.It’s not vaccines instead of masks. It’s not vaccines instead of distancing. It’s not vaccines instead of ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well,” he explained.

Pointing out the vast gap in rates of vaccination, the global health chief said as many as 41 countries have still not been able to vaccinate 10% of their populations, and 98 countries have not reached 40%.

“We also see significant inequities between population groups in the same country,” he said and called for ending the inequity to end the pandemic. “If we allow inequity to continue, we allow the pandemic to continue,” he warned.

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