WHO sounds warning as Covid cases resurge

Geneva, Mar 17
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday raised alarm bells due to the resurgence in Covid-19 cases. The UN body asked countries to remain vigilant against the virus. After more than a month of decline, Covid cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with China's Jilin province battling to contain the outbreak.
The surge is caused by a combination of factors, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its BA.2 sublineage, and the lifting of public health and social measures.
"These increases are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we're seeing are just the tip of the iceberg," WHO's head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO chief also said the problem of low vaccination rate and "huge amount of misinformation", also explained the rise.
The WHO said that new infections jumped by 8% globally compared to the previous week, with 11 million new cases and just over 43,000 new deaths reported from March 7-13. It is the first rise since the end of January. The biggest jump includes South Korea and China, where cases rose by 25% and deaths by 27%.
Africa also saw a 12% rise in new cases and a 14% rise in deaths, and Europe a 2% rise in cases but no jump in deaths. Other regions reported declining cases, including the eastern Mediterranean region, although this area saw a 38% rise in deaths linked to a previous spike in infections. Experts have raised concerns that Europe might face another coronavirus wave as Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the UK might see a rise in the cases.
The WHO's Maria Van Kerkhove said at the briefing that BA.2 appears to be the most transmissible variant so far.
However, there are no signs that it causes more severe disease and no evidence that any other new variants are driving the rise in cases. Further, experts have also warned that the US could soon see a similar wave-like Europe, driven by BA.2. "We just have to avoid thinking that Covid is no longer there. And therefore maintain the strictly necessary measures, which are essentially the continuous monitoring and tracking of cases, and the maintenance of the obligation to wear a mask in closed or very crowded places," Antonella Viola, professor of immunology at the Italy's University of Padua said.  Livemint