WHO urges Asia-Pacific to ready for Omicron-driven surge in infections

Dec 3, 2021: World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Friday that Asia-Pacific countries should increase their healthcare capacity and fully vaccinate their people to fight against the COVID-19 Omicron type.

First discovered in South Africa last month and dubbed a “variant of concern” by the WHO, scientists are still collecting data to determine how contagious Omicron is, to gauge the level of threat.

“Border controls can buy time but every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases,” Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the western Pacific, told a virtual media briefing.

“People should not only rely on border measures. What is most important is to prepare for these variants with potential high transmissibility. So far the information available suggests we don’t have to change our approach,” Kasai said.

Kasai said countries should apply the lessons learned from dealing with Delta variant and urged them to fully vaccinate vulnerable groups and implement precautions such as wearing masks and social distance laws.

Despite restrictions on international visitors, Australia on Friday became the latest country to report on Omicron’s community transmission, a day after it was found locally in five US states.

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EU says Omicron could account for over half of all Covid-19 infections in Europe within a few months