Emphasizing that the threat posed by COVID variants can be averted by the following measures, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for the WHO South-East Asia Region, said: “The threat of Omicron does not depend not just the transmissibility of the virus or the severity of the disease. can cause, or its impact on vaccines, but also on how people understand and perceive its risk, and follow control measures, including public health and social measures.
Wearing a properly fitted mask, observing physical distancing, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, performing hand hygiene and cough etiquette, getting vaccinated and continuing to follow vaccination precautions were some of the of the main preventive and protective measures suggested by Dr. Singh.
In addition, she asked people to ensure the successful implementation of the various measures that countries have put in place at national and sub-national levels in view of the ongoing pandemic, the emergence of new variants and the period. celebrations.
The new Omicron variant has spread rapidly to countries around the world, even affecting countries with high levels of population immunity. The reason for the rapid spread of the variant remains unclear and may be attributed to immune evasion or increased transmissibility or a combination of both. There are still limited data on the clinical severity of the Omicron variant. However, hospitalizations in countries reporting high numbers of cases – the UK and South Africa – continue to rise.
Increased social mixing during the holiday season and large gatherings can intensify transmission, contributing to an increase in cases. This becomes exponential with a more transmissible variant in circulation, necessitating the need to follow preventive measures.
The rapid rise in the number of cases threatens to overwhelm already overstretched health systems. This can make health services inaccessible to people who need them to save their lives for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related health conditions.
Calling on individuals and countries to fight the pandemic together, Dr Khetrapal Singh said, “People’s support is essential to curbing the spread of Omicron, as is the pandemic, and has been well demonstrated throughout the pandemic. Countries should continue to engage with communities, share factual information about Omicron and other circulating variants and potential implications for the public in a timely manner, including what is known and what is unknown, and what is made by the authorities.
Expanding on calls from WHO Director-General Dr Ghebreyesus to celebrate later and save lives, Dr Khetrapal asked individuals to take all possible measures to protect themselves and others.