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'Pandemic is not over': WHO's warning as Covid-19 cases surge globally

  The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned that the world will continue to battle with surging Covid-19 infections and its emerging variants until all countries are covered with high vaccination. "We all want to move on from the pandemic. But no matter how much we wish it away, this pandemic is not over. Until we reach high vaccination coverage in all countries, we will continue to face the risk of infections surging and new variants emerging that evade," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The number of new coronavirus cases globally increased by 7 per cent in the last week, driven by rising infections in the Western Pacific, even as reported deaths from Covid-19 fell, the WHO said earlier. "The global increase in Covid-19 cases continues, driven by large outbreaks in Asia and a fresh wave in Europe. Several countries are now seeing their highest death rates since the beginning of the pandemic. This reflects the speed with which Omicron spreads, and the heightened risk of death for those who are not vaccinated, especially older people," said Ghebreyesus.The UN health agency head also said the WHO’s target remains to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population of every country by the middle of this year, with priority given to healthcare workers, older people and other at-risk groups. Underling the vaccine inequality, he said, "Even as some high-income countries propose a second booster dose, 1/3 of world's population remains unvaccinated." "But there are some promising signs of progress. In Nigeria, for example, vaccine uptake was dramatically increased when supply stabilised, and planning was done on how to effectively distribute vaccines," he added. According to the agency, there were more than 12 million new weekly cases and just under 33,000 deaths, a 23 per cent decline in mortality. Confirmed cases of the virus had been falling steadily worldwide since January but rose again last week, due to the more infectious Omicron variant and the suspension of Covid 19 protocols in numerous countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere.Health officials have said repeatedly that Omicron causes milder disease than previous versions of the coronavirus and that vaccination, including a booster, appears highly protective.
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