In view of the rising number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases around the globe, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday said the "tsunami of cases" – driven by the new, highly transmissible Omicron variant – has now started to overwhelm health systems all across the globe.
In a new high, a record number of 9.5 million fresh Covid-19 cases were reported globally in the week between December 27, 2021, and January 2, 2022. The weekly epidemiological update issued by the WHO showed that the daily tally of global cases had increased sharply during this duration by 71 per cent as compared to the week prior.
The number of new deaths, too, took a 10 per cent hike during this span. This corresponds to just under 9.5 million new cases and over 41,000 new deaths being reported during the last week.
Pointing to the sudden surge in global Covid-19 cases, Ghebreyesus said, "Last week, the highest number of Covid-19 cases so far in the pandemic were reported. And we know, for certain, that this is an underestimate of cases because reported numbers do not reflect the backlog of testing around the holidays, the number of positive self-tests not registered, and burdened surveillance systems that miss cases around the world."
"Just like the previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people," he added. "In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world."
Regarding vaccination, the WHO chief said that while the first-generation of Covid-19 vaccines may not be capable of stopping all infections and transmissions, especially in light of emerging new variants, they are still highly effective in reducing the number of hospitalisations and deaths.
He said the key things to keep in mind, as always, are vaccination, public health social measures, including the wearing of well-fitting masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, and improving and investing in ventilation.