Geneva: In some countries, cases seem to have peaked, which gives hope that the worst of this latest COVID-19 wave is done with, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.
"Omicron continues to sweep the world. Last week, there were more than 18 million reported cases," Tedros told a media briefing on Tuesday.
"The number of deaths remains stable for the moment but we are concerned about the impact Omicron is having on already exhausted health workers and overburdened health systems," he added.
According to him, Omicron may be less severe but the narrative that it is mild disease is misleading, hurts the overall response and costs more lives.
"Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities. The virus is circulating far too intensely with many still vulnerable," he explained.
"For many countries, the next few weeks remain really critical for health workers and health systems. I urge everyone to do their best to reduce risk of infection so that you can help take pressure off the system," he added.
Countries, he stated, can still significantly reduce the impact of the current wave by sharing and using health tools effectively and implementing public health and social measures.
"At a time of Omicron, it remains more important than ever to get vaccines to the unvaccinated," he said.
"Vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection and transmission of Omicron than they were for previous variants, but they still are exceptionally good at preventing serious disease and death. This is key to protecting hospitals from becoming overwhelmed," he added.