By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Omicron was spreading globally at an unprecedented rate, with 77 countries confirming infections.
He acknowledged that Omicron might be even less deadly than COVID-19, which for most people causes flu-like symptoms though some face more severe complications.
However, “Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” he said.
Experts say that COVID-19 had impacted mainly older adults with underlying health conditions.
Yet, the WHO chief expressed more pessimism amid mounting government pressure on people to vaccinate themselves against the disease. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril,” he claimed.
The Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa in November, and the country has since seen a surge in infections.
That has prompted several countries to impose flight bans and stricter restrictions, including in Europe.
Late Tuesday, the Dutch government imposed one of Europe’s toughest evening and night lockdowns and reduced the number of daily visitors households can receive to four.
Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is to lead a new cabinet after the longest negotiations in the country’s history, spoke of a sad Christmas with restrictions to last till at least January 14.
Critics argue that restrictions and travel bans affecting South Africa and its neighbors failed to stop Omicron and earlier variants from spreading worldwide.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is among the latest politician testing positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating with reported “mild symptoms.”
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