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Too quickly to deal with COVID-19 like flu as Omicron spreads: WHO

World Health Organization
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is on monitor to contaminate greater than half of Europeans, but it surely mustn’t but be seen as a flu-like endemic sickness, the World Well being Group (WHO) stated on Tuesday.

Europe noticed greater than seven million newly-reported instances within the first week of 2022, greater than doubling over a two-week interval, WHO’s Europe director Hans Kluge advised a information briefing.

“At this charge, the Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis forecasts that greater than 50% of the inhabitants within the area shall be contaminated with Omicron within the subsequent 6-8 weeks,” Kluge stated, referring to a analysis centre on the College of Washington.

Fifty out of 53 international locations in Europe and central Asia have logged instances of the extra infectious variant, Kluge stated.

Proof, nevertheless, is rising that Omicron is affecting the higher respiratory tract greater than the lungs, inflicting milder signs than earlier variants.

However the WHO has cautioned extra research are nonetheless wanted to show this.

On Monday, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stated it could be time to alter the way it tracks COVID-19’s evolution to as an alternative use a technique much like flu, as a result of its lethality has fallen.

That will suggest treating the virus as an endemic sickness, somewhat than a pandemic, with out recording each case and with out testing all folks presenting signs.

However that’s “a method off”, WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, stated on the briefing, including that endemicity requires a secure and predictable transmission.

“We nonetheless have an enormous quantity of uncertainty and a virus that’s evolving fairly shortly, imposing new challenges. We’re actually not on the level the place we’re in a position to name it endemic,” Smallwood stated.

“It could develop into endemic sooner or later, however pinning that right down to 2022 is just a little bit tough at this stage.”