'Dangerous' To Assume Omicron is the Last Variant of COVID-19: WHO Chief Tedros

"Conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge," he said.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday, 24 January, said it would be dangerous to assume that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 would be the last one to emerge and that the world was at the "end game" of the pandemic, Reuters reported quoting Tedros.

"Conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge," he added.

The WHO chief, however also said that, if tools such as testing and vaccines are used in a comprehensive manner, it would be possible for us to exit the acute phase of the pandemic, this year.

Tedros, was further reported as saying that more than 80 million cases have been logged since the Omicron variant was detected. The figure, he said, was more than the total number of cases that were reported in the whole of 2020.

'Cannot End the Emergency Phase Until...'

Pointing out that half of the WHO's 194 member states missed the previous target of vaccinating 40 percent of their people by end-2021 and that 85 percent of people in Africa were yet to receive even their first jab, Tedros said, "We simply cannot end the emergency phase of the pandemic unless we bridge this gap."

According to AFP, the WHO chief said that the world would need to learn to live with COVID and to “manage it through a sustained and integrated strategy for acute respiratory diseases”.

Meanwhile, WHO's Europe director Hans Kluge was, earlier in the day, reported by AFP as saying that the highly transmissible Omicron variant had moved the pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe.

"It's plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame," he reportedly said. However, he added that the variant can affect 60 percent of people in Europe by March.

Meanwhile, India on Monday, witnessed a marginal decline in the daily rise in COVID-19 cases with 3,06,064 new infections. A total of 439 deaths were also reported.

India's active caseload currently stands at 22,49,335, while the positivity rate has risen to 20.75 percent.

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)

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