WHO chief warns Covid-19 pandemic "nowhere near over"

FILE PHOTO: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. R- Reuters

SINGAPORE, Jan. 22 (Xinhua): World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently refuted the narrative that the Omicron variant signals the Covid-19 mitigating into a mild disease, warning that the pandemic is far from over.

"This pandemic is nowhere near over," Tedros told reporters from the WHO's headquarters in Geneva, Singapore's Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao paper has reported.

The Omicron variant is much more contagious than previous strains and has spread rapidly since it was first detected in southern Africa in November.

"Omicron may be less severe, on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading," Tedros said.

"Make no mistake: Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities," he added.

Covid-19 cases are also slowly rising in Singapore as total infections have risen above 300,000.

Singapore reported 3,155 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Friday (Jan 21), bringing the total tally to 307,813.

Of the new cases, 1,616 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 1,539 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to the statistics released by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Friday's update was the first time that the ministry started including cases detected by ARTs.

Among the PCR cases, 1,278 were local transmissions and 338 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 1,516 local transmissions and 23 imported cases, respectively.

A total of 360 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 13 cases being critically ill and intubated in the intensive care units.

One death was reported from Covid-19 here Friday, bringing the total death toll to 846, the ministry said. - Xinhua

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