The World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported that hospital admissions from Covid-19 in December increased by 42% in nearly 50 countries, mostly in Europe and the Americas. These countries shared this trend information, highlighting a significant rise in cases.
Tedros, the head of the UN health agency, pointed out that holiday gatherings and the spread of the most prominent variant globally led to increased transmission of Covid-19 last month. He emphasized that nearly 10,000 deaths were reported in December. Speaking from the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Tedros stated, “Although 10,000 deaths a month is far less than the peak of the pandemic, this level is not acceptable.” He noted the certainty of rising cases in other places that have not been reporting.
Ghebreyesus called on governments to maintain surveillance and continue providing access to treatments and vaccines. He highlighted that the JN.1 variant is now the most prominent in the world. As an omicron variant, current vaccines should still offer some protection.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the Technical head of WHO for Covid-19, cited an increase in respiratory diseases globally due to the coronavirus, as well as flu, rhinovirus, and pneumonia. She stated, “We expect those trends to continue into January through the winter months in the northern hemisphere.” Maria also noted the increase in Covid-19 cases in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is currently summer.
While common symptoms like coughs, sniffling, fever, and fatigue are typical in winter, this year has seen the co-circulation of many different types of pathogens, as pointed out by Maria. In response to these developments, WHO officials recommend that people get vaccinated when possible, wear masks, and ensure proper ventilation in indoor areas. Emphasizing prevention, they advocate following WHO guidelines for public health and safety.