Keeping in view the new, more dangerous, COVID mutant Omicron, the WHO has appealed to the countries of southeast Asian region to be vigilant, scale up surveillance, strengthen public health and social measures, and enhance vaccination coverage.
“Though COVID-19 cases have been declining in most countries of our region, the surge in cases elsewhere in the world and confirmation of a new variant of concern, is a reminder of the persisting risk and the need for us to continue to do our best to protect against the virus and prevent its spread. At no cost should we let our guards down."Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region
WHO urged the countries to amp up surveillance and genome sequencing along with assessing the risk of virus importation through international travel. The countries should use updated information on circulating variants and response capacities and then take corresponding measures accordingly.
People must be made more alert and attempts should be made to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. WHO also asked the citizens to wear a mask and wear it properly, covering nose and mouth, to keep distance, to avoid poorly-ventilated or crowded spaces, to keep hands clean, to cover cough and sneeze, and to get vaccinated.
WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution met yesterday and designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and named it Omicron. Researchers are working to understand how transmissible or virulent this variant is, and how it will impact diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
"As of today 31 percent of the region’s population is fully vaccinated, 21 percent partially vaccinated, while nearly 48 percent, or about a billion people are yet to receive even a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”Dr Poonam
Even after getting vaccinated, everyone must continue to take precautions to prevent getting infected and infect someone else who may get severely affected by the virus.
“We must not forget that the pandemic is far from over. As societies open up, we should not get complacent. Festivities and celebrations must include all precautionary measures. Crowds and large gatherings must be avoided. The current situation warrants further stepping up of efforts on all fronts.”Regional Director