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Can't Pretend Virus 'Is Not There', Says WHO Chief As COVID-Related Deaths Rise By 35% Worldwide

WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said that everyone across the globe is "tired" of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the "virus is not tired of us".

Can't Pretend Virus 'Is Not There', Says WHO Chief As COVID-Related Deaths Rise By 35% Worldwide
A health worker and relatives wearing PPE carry the body of a man, who died due to COVID-19 in Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

Despite multiple health experts saying that "we need to learn to live" with COVID-19 as the pandemic enters its third year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against dropping guards and said that the world cannot pretend that the virus "is not there". The remarks were made by WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus in a video message on August 17.

"It means we use all the tools we have to protect ourselves, and protect others," Ghebreyesus said as he noted that deaths linked to COVID-19 have increased by 35 per cent globally. He said that everyone across the globe is "tired" of the pandemic, but the "virus is not tired of us".

"Just in the past week, 15,000 people around the world lost their lives to COVID-19. 15,000 deaths a week is completely unacceptable, when we have all the tools to prevent infections and save lives," the WHO chief said in his statement.

According to Ghebreyesus, Omicron continues to remain the dominant variant, with "BA.5 sub-variant representing more than 90 per cent of sequences shared in the last month".

"However, the number of sequences shared per week has fallen by 90 per cent since the beginning of this year, and the number of countries sharing sequences has dropped by 75 per cent, making it so much harder to understand how the virus might be changing," he said.

"With colder weather approaching in the northern hemisphere and people spending more time indoors, the risks for more intense transmission and hospitalization will only increase in the coming months – not only for COVID-19, but for other diseases including influenza," Ghebreyesus said.

Stressing that the world needs "tools to protect" itself, the WHO top boss also urged people to get vaccinated, use facemasks, and avoid crowds as "there is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus".

"We cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. We cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths. We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there," he concluded.

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