A combination of factors, including misinformation that the pandemic is over, the lifting of mask mandates, ending physical distancing — and a more transmissible Omicron BA.2 variant — are causing an increase of COVID-19 cases globally, the World Health Organization warned this week.

In the past week, the World Health Organization has seen an 8% increase in the detection of COVID-19 cases, with more than 11 million positive test results.

“After several weeks of declines, reported cases of COVID-19 are once again increasing globally, especially in parts of Asia”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus told Reuters in Geneva.

These increases are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg. Continued local outbreaks and surges are to be expected, particularly in areas where measures to prevent transmission have been lifted, but there are ‘unacceptably high’ levels of mortality in many countries, especially where vaccination levels are low among susceptible populations.

Each country is facing a different situation with different challenges, but the pandemic is not over!

A combination of factors is fuelling the increase of cases worldwide, beginning with a more transmissible variant Omicron, which is transmitting at a very intense level around the world. They are sub-lineages of Omicron such as BA.1 and BA.2. BA.2 who are more transmissible, and these are the most transmissible variant that scientists have seen of the SARS-COV2 virus to date.

MISINFORMATION IS THE MAIN REASON STILL CAUSING A LOT OF CONFUSION AMONG PEOPLE

The misinformation narrative circulating at the moment is that Omicron is mild, the pandemic is over and this is the last variant that we will have to deal with. Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme clarified that the virus has not ‘settled down’ into a purely seasonal or predictable pattern yet. “So, the idea that ‘we are through with it’ in the northern hemisphere and now we have to wait until next winter, I think (for example) when we look at increasing rates in the UK, we need to be very vigilant and cautious with this”, he said.

The expert added that the virus is still ‘very fit’ and it’s moving around easily and in the context of waning immunity and vaccines not acting perfectly against infection, the virus will likely continue to echo around the world.

“It will be high in some parts sometimes and then move and be higher again, it will move to another area where immunity is waning. The virus will pick up pockets of susceptibility, and we will survive on those pockets for months until another pocket opens.

“This is how viruses work. They establish themselves in a community and they will move quickly to the next community that’s unprotected”, he further explained saying that experts have seen similar patterns with the polio virus.

“We completely understand that the world needs to move on and wants to move on from COVID-19 but this virus spreads very efficiently between people and if we don’t have the right interventions in place the virus will take opportunities to continue to spread, and the more the virus spreads the more opportunities it has to change”, Dr. Van Kerkhove added.

Both doctors and WHO chief Tedros also spoke about the importance of vaccination pointing out that the majority of deaths remain amongst the unvaccinated, and older individuals and people with underlying conditions who have not received the full course of effective vaccines.

Read the full story on Reuters


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