The World Health Organization chief said Tuesday that 90 million cases of coronavirus have been reported since the omicron variant was first identified 10 weeks ago — amounting to more than in all of 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With many countries easing their restrictive measures amid public fatigue about them, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus cautioned that omicron should not be underestimated even though it has shown to bring less severe illness than earlier variants — and cited "a very worrying increase in deaths in most regions of the world."
"We are concerned that a narrative has taken hold in some countries that because of vaccines — and because of omicron's high transmissibility and lower severity — preventing transmission is no longer possible and no longer necessary," he told a regular WHO briefing on the pandemic.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Tedros added. "It's premature for any country either to surrender or to declare victory. This virus is dangerous and it continues to evolve before our very eyes."
WHO said four of its six regions worldwide are seeing increasing trends in deaths.
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