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Dhaka Tribune

WHO: Omicron cases doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with local spread

The coronavirus has killed over 5.3 million people since the outbreak emerged in China
Update : 03 Jan 2022, 02:57 PM

The Omicron coronavirus variant has been reported in 89 countries and the number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.

Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high levels of population immunity, but it is unclear if this is due to the virus' ability to evade immunity, its inherent increased transmissibility or a combination of both, the WHO said in an update.

The agency designated Omicron a variant of concern on November 26, soon after it was first detected, and much is still not known about it, including the severity of the illness it causes.

"There are still limited data on the clinical severity of Omicron," the WHO said. "More data are needed to understand the severity profile and how severity is impacted by vaccination and pre-existing immunity."

It added, "There are still limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron."

The WHO warned that with cases rising so rapidly, hospitals could be overwhelmed in some places.

"Hospitalizations in the UK and South Africa continue to rise, and given rapidly increasing case counts, it is possible that many healthcare systems may become quickly overwhelmed."

335 million US doses donated

The United States has so far delivered more than 335 million doses of Covid vaccine to 110 countries, a figure matching the US population, the White House tells AFP.

Omicron to be dominant strain

French Prime Minister Jean Castex says the Omicron variant will be the dominant strain of coronavirus in France from the start of 2022, comparing its spread in Europe to "lightning."

Denmark, France high risk zones

Germany designates France and Denmark as high-risk zones for the transmission of coronavirus and imposes quarantine on unvaccinated travellers from the two from Sunday.

Swiss curbs on unvaccinated

Switzerland will step up anti-Covid measures from Monday with a return to working from home and curbs on the unvaccinated, as the country battles an intense fifth wave of the virus.

Canada lifts Africa ban

Canada announces the lifting of a ban on foreign travellers from 10 African countries from 0459 GMT on Sunday, while reimposing testing.

Over 5.3 million dead

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,364,749 and infected over 274. 2 million people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Saturday. 

The US has suffered the most Covid-related deaths with 803,652, followed by Brazil with 617,395, India with 476,869 and Mexico with 297,356.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.

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