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COVID-19: Omicron variant now in 23 countries – WHO

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  The World Health Organization WHO says that cases of the new Omicron variant have been reported in at least 23 countries in five of the six WHO regions WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus unveiled in Geneva on Wednesday saying the number of cases is expected to rise WHO takes this development extremely seriously and all countries should too he told reporters listening to the agency s regular virtual briefing on COVID 19 But it shouldn t surprise us That is what viruses do And this is what this virus will continue to do as long as we allow it to continue spreading he said Preliminary evidence suggests that Omicron may have a potential immune escape and or possibly increased transmissibility compared to previous variants of concern according to the latest WHO weekly epidemiological update on COVID 19 also released Wednesday He said experts were learning more about the variant but there is still more to learn about its effect on transmission the severity of the disease and the effectiveness of tests therapeutics and vaccines The WHO chief urged countries to take rational and proportionate risk reduction measures including those aimed at delaying or reducing the spread such as screening passengers or implementing quarantines for international travelers However he stressed that blanket travel bans would not prevent the international spread of Omicron and place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods Ghebreyesus stressed the need to continue public health measures against the spread of the coronavirus and ensure that vulnerable and high risk people are fully vaccinated He cautioned that the current toxic mix of low vaccine coverage and very low evidence is a recipe for variant breeding and amplification We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save Delta s lives And if we do that we will also prevent transmission and save Omicron s lives But if countries and people don t do what they need to do to stop Delta s broadcast they won t stop Omicron either he said As of Tuesday there were more than 261 million confirmed COVID 19 cases worldwide and 5 2 million deaths and the Delta variant continued to dominate Meanwhile the director general said that the agreement of countries to launch a process to develop a new global agreement on preventing and responding to a pandemic is cause for hope Ghebreyesus welcomed the consensus decision reached during a special session of the World Health Assembly WHA the UN agency s highest decision making body which was attended by representatives of its 194 member states The three day meeting began on Monday with the sole objective of considering the benefits of creating a new international agreement on preparedness for pandemic prevention and how best to avoid the pitfalls that have clouded an effective response to COVID 19 This was only the second time that the assembly met in a special session since the WHO was founded in 1948 The adoption of this decision is cause for celebration and reason for hope which we will need he said in his closing remarks although he noted that the road ahead is long There are still differences of opinion about what a new agreement could or should contain But you have shown each other and the world that differences can be overcome and common ground can be found The decision will establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body INB that will negotiate and draft any convention agreement or other international instruments A first meeting will take place no later than March 1 2022 and public hearings will also be held to inform the deliberations INB will deliver a progress report to the World Health Assembly in 2023 and present its results for consideration the following year YAYA
COVID-19: Omicron variant now in 23 countries – WHO

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization, WHO, says that cases of the new Omicron variant have been reported in at least 23 countries in five of the six WHO regions.

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WHO Director-General Dr

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.unveiled in Geneva on Wednesday, saying the number of cases is expected to rise.

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“WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and all countries should too,” he told reporters listening to the agency’s regular virtual briefing on COVID-19.

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But it shouldn’t surprise us. That is what viruses do. And this is what this virus will continue to do, as long as we allow it to continue spreading, “he said.

Preliminary evidence suggests that Omicron may have a “potential immune escape” and, or possibly, increased transmissibility, compared to previous variants of concern, according to the latest WHO weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19, also released Wednesday.

He said experts were learning more about the variant, “but there is still more to learn about its effect on transmission, the severity of the disease and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines.”

The WHO chief urged countries to take “rational and proportionate risk reduction measures”, including those aimed at delaying or reducing the spread, such as screening passengers or implementing quarantines for international travelers.

However, he stressed that “blanket travel bans would not prevent the international spread of Omicron and place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”

Ghebreyesus stressed the need to continue public health measures against the spread of the coronavirus and ensure that vulnerable and high-risk people are fully vaccinated.

He cautioned that the current “toxic mix” of low vaccine coverage and very low evidence is a recipe for variant breeding and amplification.

“We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save Delta‘s lives.

“And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and save Omicron’s lives. But if countries and people don’t do what they need to do to stop Delta’s broadcast, they won’t stop Omicron either, ”he said.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 261 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and 5.2 million deaths, and the Delta variant continued to dominate.

Meanwhile, the director general said that the agreement of countries to launch a process to develop a new global agreement on preventing and responding to a pandemic is cause for hope.

World Health Assembly

Ghebreyesus welcomed the consensus decision reached during a special session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the UN agency’s highest decision-making body, which was attended by representatives of its 194 member states.

The three-day meeting began on Monday with the sole objective of considering the benefits of creating a new international agreement on preparedness for pandemic prevention and how best to avoid the pitfalls that have clouded an effective response to COVID-19.

This was only the second time that the assembly met in a special session since the WHO was founded in 1948.

“The adoption of this decision is cause for celebration and reason for hope, which we will need,” he said in his closing remarks, although he noted that the road ahead is long.

“There are still differences of opinion about what a new agreement could or should contain. But you have shown each other and the world that differences can be overcome and common ground can be found. “

Intergovernmental Negotiating Body

The decision will establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will negotiate and draft any convention, agreement or other international instruments.

A first meeting will take place no later than March 1, 2022 and public hearings will also be held to inform the deliberations.

World Health Assembly

INB will deliver a progress report to the World Health Assembly in 2023 and present its results for consideration the following year.

YAYA

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