Stockholm (Sweden) | Jagran News Desk: Amid a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that rising Omicron cases could increase the risk of a "newer, more dangerous" variant emerging.

In an interview with international news agency AFP, WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood noted that Omicron is "less severe" that has raised hopes that life could return to normality soon. However, she warned that "soaring infection rates could have the opposite effect."

"The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant. Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death ... maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who's to say what the next variant might throw out," Smallwood said. "We're in a very dangerous phase, we're seeing infection rates rise very significantly in Western Europe, and the full impact of that is not yet clear."

Noting that the hospitalisation rate is far less with Omicron compared to Delta, the WHO senior emergencies officer warned that the new variant could pose a greater threat because of the sheer number of cases. She also spoke about rising Omicron cases in Britain and said she expected that scenario to play out in other European countries as well.

"When you see the cases rise so significantly, that's likely to generate a lot more people with severe disease, ending up in hospital and possibly going on to die," Smallwood told AFP in the interview. "Even in well-capacitated, sophisticated health systems there are real struggles that are happening at the moment, and it's likely that these will play out across the region as Omicron drives cases upwards."

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma