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COVID-19: WHO urges yuletide caution

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THE World Health Organisation has urged leaders of countries and individuals to make difficult decisions Cancel events now, celebrate later,to protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  According to the UN body, the decision in some cases will mean cancelling or delaying events.

  In his opening remarks at the virtual media briefing on COVID-19 on Monday, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled.

  “It’s better to cancel now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and grieve later. 

  “None of us want to be here again in 12 months’ time, talking about missed opportunities, continued inequity, or new variants.

  “If we are to end the pandemic in the coming year, we must end inequity, by ensuring 70 per cent of the population of every country is vaccinated by the middle of next year,” he said.

  The WHO chief noted that Africa is now facing a steep wave of infections, driven largely by the Omicron variant.

  He said evidence has shown that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant.

  “And it is more likely that people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or reinfected.

  “There can be no doubt that increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths. 

  “All of us are sick of this pandemic. All of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal,” Ghebreyesus said.

Figures from WHO show that more than 3.3 million people have lost their lives to COVID-19 this year – more deaths than from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined in 2020.

  “And still, COVID-19 continues to claim around 50,000 lives every week.

  “That’s not to mention the unreported deaths and the millions of excess deaths caused by disruptions to essential health services,” it said.

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