WHO calls for public support to limit the spread of Omicron

Calling on people to support measures countries are putting in place for the new COVID-19 variant and the holiday season, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the global threat posed by Omicron will also depend of how people perceive the risk and follow measures to prevent and control its further spread.

“The threat from Omicron depends not only on the transmissibility of the virus, the severity of the disease it can cause or its impact on vaccines, but also on how people understand and perceive its risk, and follow through. control measures, including public health and social measures, ”said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for the WHO South-East Asia Region.

The main preventive and protective measures for all individuals are to wear a properly fitted mask, respect physical distancing, avoid crowds, ventilate indoor spaces as much as possible, ensure hand hygiene and cough etiquette, to get the shot and keep doing everything even after being fully vaccinated, the regional director said.

People need to contribute to the successful implementation of the different measures that countries have put in place at national and subnational levels given the ongoing pandemic, the emergence of new variants and the holidays and celebrations, the director said. regional.

Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high levels of population immunity, and it remains unclear to what extent the rapid growth can be attributed to immune evasion or increased transmissibility or a combination of the two. There is still limited data on the clinical severity of the Omicron variant, however, hospitalizations in the UK and South Africa continue to increase.

Increased social mix during the holiday season and large gatherings can intensify transmission and lead to an increase in cases, which could be exponential with a more communicable variant.

The rapid increase in the number of cases risks overwhelming health systems and impacting accessibility to health care for those most in need of life-saving services, both for health problems related to the patient. COVID-19 and not related to COVID-19.

“Public support is essential to limit the spread of omicron, as well as the pandemic, and has been well demonstrated throughout the pandemic,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.

Countries should continue to engage with communities, share factual information about Omicron and other outstanding variants and the potential implications for the public in a timely manner, including what is known and unknown, and what is being done. by the authorities.

Earlier this week, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “A canceled event is better than a canceled life…. Better to cancel now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and cry later.

“As individuals, we must take all possible measures to protect ourselves and others,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.

Meanwhile, the number of Omicron cases in India continues to rise, reaching 358. A number of states have started to impose restrictions to limit the spread of the new variant of Covid.

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