In view of an increase in COVID-19 cases around the world and the discovery of a new variant of concern Omicron, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on countries in the South-East Asia Region to increase surveillance, strengthen public health and social measures, and increase vaccination coverage on Sunday.
“Although COVID-19 cases have been declining in most of our Region’s countries, the recent surge in cases elsewhere in the world, as well as confirmation of a new Variant of Concern, serves as a reminder of the virus’s lingering threat and the need for us to keep doing our best to protect against it and prevent its spread.” Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said, “At no cost should we let our guard down.”
WHO said in a press statement that countries need to improve surveillance and sequencing. They should assess the risk of importation via foreign travel using up-to-date knowledge on circulating variations and response capabilities, and take appropriate precautions.
“To avoid transmission, comprehensive and specialized public health and social measures must be maintained.
The earlier preventive measures are put in place, the less restrictive they will have to be to be successful. “The more COVID-19 spreads, the more opportunity the virus has to alter and mutate, and the epidemic will persist longer,” said the Regional Director.
The WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution recently met and named B.1.1.529 Omicron as a variant of concern. Researchers are trying to figure out how contagious or virulent this variety is, as well as how it will affect diagnostics, treatments, and vaccinations.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that the epidemic is far from ended.” We must not become complacent when civilizations open up.
All cautious steps must be taken during celebrations and festivities. Crowds and huge gatherings should be avoided at all costs. The current scenario necessitates a greater focus on all fronts, according to the Regional Director.