‘Better to cancel Christmas events than grieve later,’ WHO chief warns over Omicron spread

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday recommended people cancel holiday gatherings as Omicron continues to spread.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled.”

“All of us are sick of this pandemic. All of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal. The fastest way to do this is for all of us leaders and individuals to make the difficult decisions that must be made to protect ourselves and others.”

“In some cases, that will mean cancelling or delaying events,” he continued. “But an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled. It’s better to cancel now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and grieve later. None of us want to be here again in 12 months time.”

The WHO chief flagged “consistent evidence” that the latest variant of concern, Omicron, is spreading “significantly faster” than the Delta variant. Data suggest that Omicron’s community transmission has a doubling time between 1.5 and three days.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist also warned that it is too early to conclude that Omicron is a milder variant and highlighted that preliminary studies suggest it is more resistant to vaccines currently used to fight the pandemic.

Current evidence shows that it is more likely that people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or reinfected by Omicron.

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