Brussels: The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that more than 7 million new cases of the Omicron variant were reported across Europe in the first week of January. The Telegraph reported that according to Hans Kluge, director of WHO Europe, 26 countries reported that more than 1 percent of their population was getting infected with COVID each week.
Kluge cited estimates from the Institute of Health Metrics at the University of Washington, which estimated that half of Western Europe’s population would be infected with COVID in the next six to eight weeks.
“Omicron is spreading faster and more widely than any (previous) variant,” he was quoted as saying in a media briefing.
Kluge called on countries to mandate the use of masks indoors and prioritize vaccination, which includes a booster dose of at-risk populations, including health workers and the elderly.
Furthermore, he added that as Omicron moves east across the European continent, the variant will have a huge impact on countries with low vaccination coverage rates.
Kluge reported that the rate of COVID hospitalization in Denmark was six times higher than in people who were not vaccinated.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus previously asked rich countries not to offer booster doses and donate them to poorer countries, where vulnerable groups are yet to be vaccinated.
He said, no country can confirm the way out of the epidemic. Existing vaccines are effective against both Delta and Omicron forms.
first published:Jan. 11, 2022, 9:40 p.m.