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WHO chief worried about ‘tsunami’ of Omicron, Delta coronavirus cases

A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 in Xi'an in China's northern Shaanxi province on December 29, 2021. (AFP)
A resident undergoes a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 in Xi'an in China's northern Shaanxi province on December 29, 2021. (AFP)

The head of the World Health Organization says he’s worried about the Omicron and Delta variants of COVID-19 producing a “tsunami” of cases between them, but he’s still hopeful the world will put the worst of the pandemic behind it in 2022.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urges everyone to make a “new year’s resolution” to get behind a campaign to vaccinate 70% of countries’ populations by the beginning of July.

According to WHO’s figures, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded worldwide increased by 11% last week compared with the previous week, with nearly 4.99 million newly reported from Dec. 20-26. New cases in Europe — which accounted for more than half of the total — were up 3% while those in the Americas rose 39% and there was a 7% increase in Africa.

“I’m highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible [and] circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,” Tedros says at an online news conference. That, he says, will put “immense pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the brink of collapse.”

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