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WHO: COVID cases increase by 30% globally

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization (WHO) says global cases of COVID-19 have increased by nearly 30 percent during the past two weeks.

In a media briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the rise had been due to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, adding that four out of six of the WHO sub-regions saw cases increasing in the last week.

“In Europe and America, BA.4 and BA.5 are driving waves. In countries like India, a new sub lineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected, which we’re following,” he said.

Ghebreyesus said a number of factors were compounding the challenge.

“First, testing has reduced dramatically in many countries... Second, new treatments, especially promising new oral antivirals, are still not reaching low- and low-middle income countries… Third, as the virus evolves, vaccines protection — while still really effective at preventing serious disease and death — does wane… Fourth, each wave of the virus leaves more people with long-COVID or post-COVID condition,” he said.

Ghebreyesus emphasized that governments, scientists, manufacturers, WHO, and citizens themselves all had their own part to play. He also stressed that essential steps had to be taken to tackle the fresh surge.

“One, vaccinate and boost those at most risk. This includes older people, people with chronic illnesses, the immunocompromised and health workers. Then build up the wall of immunity throughout the population. Two, make new oral antivirals and other treatments available to all,” the WHO chief added.

As for the third step, Ghebreyesus urged people to use tried and tested public health measures to mitigate risk, and as for the fourth step, he called on research centers to speed up research and development of next-generation vaccines, tests, and treatments.

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