News ID: 319210
Published: 0146 GMT January 07, 2022

WHO: Calling Omicron 'mild' a mistake as variant spreading worldwide

WHO: Calling Omicron 'mild' a mistake as variant spreading worldwide

People walk through Piccadilly Circus amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in central London, Britain, on January 6, 2022.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is killing people across the globe and should not be dismissed as mild, the World Health Organization insisted.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday the record numbers of people catching the new variant – which is rapidly out-competing the previously-dominant Delta variant in many countries – meant hospitals were being overwhelmed, AFP reported.

"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," Tedros told a press conference.

"Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people," he explained.

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

Just under 9.5 million new COVID-19 cases were reported to the WHO last week – a record, up 71 percent on the week before.

But even this was an underestimate, Tedros said, as it did not reflect the backlog of testing around the Christmas-New Year holidays, positive self-tests not registered, and overburdened surveillance systems missing cases.

The new variant is quickly spreading across the world.

Hospitals across the United States are postponing elective surgeries to free up staff and beds due to a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, according to Reuters.

Administrators say hospital staff shortages have been compounded in the last month by medical practitioners isolating or quarantining as they themselves are infected or exposed to the virus.

The seven-day average of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals was up 60% from last week to 16,458 per day, CDC data shows, just 0.2% shy from the national peak in hospital admissions exactly a year ago.

Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that over 82% of ICU beds nationwide are currently in use as of Thursday with over 27% in use for COVID-19 cases.

In Britain, Ministry of Defence on Friday said that it had begun the deployment of the military to support hospitals experiencing staff shortages and extreme pressures due to record COVID-19 cases in the country.

Britain has seen a surge in coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant, and has reported over 150,000 new cases each day over the last week.

Germany’s leaders to consider possible new restrictions and changes to quarantine rules as the new variant advances quickly.

On Friday, the national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, reported an official rate of 303.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. The European country reported 56,335 new cases on Friday.

France's Parliament on Thursday approved President Emmanuel Macron's plans for a vaccine pass to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant.















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