Omicron to Cause Tsunami of Cases, Warns WHO

30 Dec, 2021 14:10 IST|L Manisha

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the highly transmissible Omicron, along with the dreaded Delta variants, might result in a "tsunami of cases," putting enormous strain on national health systems. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that he is "very concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible and circulating at the same time as Delta — is leading to a tsunami of infections."

"This is and will continue to put huge pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the verge of collapse, disrupting lives and livelihoods," he added, citing the pressure as not only new Covid-19 patients needing hospitalisation but also a large number of health workers becoming ill themselves. Tedros expressed alarm about a recent revelation that Omicron was producing milder or less severe ailments, according to the Xinhua news agency. "However, we are undercutting the other side at the same time, which might be hazardous... "We shouldn't ignore the bad news in order to focus on the positive," he said.

"We don't want people to be complacent and think, 'This isn't serious, it's light.'" And we must tread carefully in that story," he warned. According to Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, while Omicron appears to be more transmissible, has a shorter incubation time, and causes a mild sickness, this is predicated on the largely young population that the variation has infected.

Ryan is "a bit nervous to make favorable forecasts until we know how effectively the vaccination protection is going to function in the older and more susceptible groups" since the Omicron wave has not yet been completely established in the larger population. "I think it's critical that we keep reducing transmission of both strains to the greatest extent possible in the next weeks," he added.

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