‘Calling it mild is a mistake,’ says WHO, as the number of cases rises.
The World Health Organization has issued an urgent warning in the wake of a surge in Omicron infections around the world.
The highly infectious Omicron variant appears to cause less severe disease than Delta, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that it should not be classified as “mild.”
Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against downplaying the Omicron variant’s potential harm during a press conference on Thursday.
“While Omicron appears to be less severe than Delta, especially in those who have been vaccinated, that does not mean it should be classified as’mild,'” he said.
“Omicron, like previous variants, is putting people in hospitals and killing them.
“In fact, the tsunami of cases is so large and fast that health systems all over the world are being overwhelmed.”
The remarks come as the World Health Organization (WHO) reports a new high of 9,520,488 new cases in the last week.
This startling figure, according to the UN health agency, is an underestimate, with the true figure likely to be much higher.
This represents a 71 percent increase in the weekly count of infections around the world.
Despite this, the number of deaths reported has decreased, with 41,178 confirmed in the last seven days versus 44,680 the week before.
The latest Omicron-driven wave has hit the UK particularly hard, with 179,756 new cases and 231 new deaths reported on Thursday alone.
As of January 5, there were 17,988 people in hospital in the UK with COVID-19, up 50% from the previous week and the highest number since February 2021.
Medical staff being among the hundreds of thousands of people who have self-isolated has added to the strain on the NHS.
More than one in every six NHS trusts in England has declared a critical incident as a result of Covid pressures.
At least 24 of England’s 137 NHS trusts have declared a critical incident, meaning they have reached a level of alert that indicates priority services may be in jeopardy.
Ministers are attempting to strike a balance between imposing more restrictions and preventing hospitals from becoming “overburdened,” according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“What we want to do is steer the country through the Omicron wave, and I think plan B has so far proven to be the right way forward – not shutting down the country yet again with all the costs to,” Mr Shapps told Sky News.
“Brinkwire News Summary.”