Covid-19: Omicron and Delta variants increase pressure on “health systems on the verge of collapse”, worries WHO

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed more than 5.4 million lives worldwide since the World Health Organization (WHO) office in China reported the onset of the disease at the end of December 2019 in this country, according to a report established on Wednesday, December 29, by Agence France-Presse (AFP) from official sources.

The United States is, according to these sources, the most bereaved country with nearly 821,000 officially recorded deaths, ahead of Brazil (618,000), India (480,000) and Russia (307,000). The WHO estimates, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, that the toll of the pandemic in the world could be two to three times higher, or 10 to 15 million deaths.

The world reached new thresholds for Covid-19 cases last week with more than 935,000 recorded each day on average from December 22 to 28 (more than 6.5 million cumulative cases over the week), according to a count of AFP produced from official reports.

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  • WHO concerned about Omicron ‘causing tsunami of cases’

WHO said on Wednesday “Very concerned that the more transmissible Omicron circulating at the same time as Delta is causing a tsunami of cases.” This is and will continue to put immense pressure on an exhausted health workforce and health systems on the brink of collapse ”.

“The pressure on health systems is not only due to new Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalization, but also to the fact that a large number of health workers themselves fall ill”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned, during a press conference. He also recalled that unvaccinated people are much more likely to die from either variant.

“Populism, narrow nationalism and the grabbing of medical equipment including masks, therapeutics, screening tools and vaccines by a small number of countries have undermined equity and created the ideal conditions for the emergence of new variants ”, said the head of the WHO.

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  • Peak daily contamination in the United States and elsewhere

With more than 265,000 daily contaminations on average over the past week, United States face a worrying record outbreak of Covid-19 infections fueled by the Omicron variant. The seven-day average of 265,427 new daily cases surpassed the previous peak recorded in the third wave in January 2021 (nearly 252,000 cases), according to data released Wednesday by Johns-Hopkins University.

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Omicron is now the dominant variant in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. It accounted for about 59% of new cases in the week ending December 25.

the Denmark, currently the country in the world with the most new cases of Covid-19 compared to its population, recorded its highest threshold on Wednesday with 23,228 additional cases in twenty-four hours. However, this report is largely explained by a very large number of PCR tests carried out after Christmas, the rate of positive tests remaining almost stable, at 12.3%, according to data from the health authorities.

A peak in contamination was also reached in UK Tuesday: nearly 130,000 cases in England and Wales. This country has launched a massive vaccine booster campaign which has already allowed an additional dose to be administered to almost 57% of those over 12 years old. According to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, up to 90% of Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care in the United Kingdom have not received a vaccine booster dose.

L’Spain and the Greece also saw the contaminations explode. The Spanish government also decided, on Wednesday, to reduce the duration of the quarantine of people positive for Covid-19 to seven days against ten previously, announced the Ministry of Health.

L’Argentine has also experienced a spectacular spread of the virus, with nearly 34,000 new infections in the last twenty-four hours, 10,000 more than the day before and six times more than a week ago, but the government has so far ruled out new restrictive measures.

  • Several countries have put in place new restrictions

The China, which records an epidemic outbreak less than forty days before the Beijing Winter Olympics, confined tens of thousands of additional people on Tuesday. After the city of Xi’an (north), subjected for a week to a strict quarantine and which is now experiencing supply difficulties, several tens of thousands of inhabitants of a district of the city of Yan’an, at 300 kilometers from Xi’an, were instructed on Tuesday to stay at home as businesses were to close. The country reported on Tuesday 209 new patients in twenty-four hours, the highest number for twenty-one month.

L’South Africa, who announced last week the end of the tracing of contact cases of people tested positive for Covid-19, reversed this decision. After having already announced various measures on Monday, the government decided on Wednesday to extend, by three weeks in January, the closure of nightclubs in force since December 10.

The World with AFP

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Covid-19: Omicron and Delta variants increase pressure on “health systems on the verge of collapse”, worries WHO