NEW DELHI: Covid-19 cases are rising once again across the world, driven by two Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, said the World Health Organization (WHO), adding that the number of new coronavirus cases rose by 18 per cent in the last week, with more than 4.1 million cases being reported globally.
Experts in India have said the two sub-variants, described as concern variants, are driving the surge in as many as 14 states.
According to Dr Samiran Panda, Additional Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and head of its Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, India has also detected the two Omicron sub-variants. Still, the surge is not that level.
“We are seeing small local spikes, and it is not a fourth wave. The good thing is that the number of deaths or severity (of cases) is not happening to a great extent in India as seen elsewhere in the world. Also, so far, we do not see any burden on the healthcare system,” he said.
India recorded 18,819 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of Covid-19 cases to 4,34,52,164. Thirty-nine deaths were reported, as per union health ministry data.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Covid-19 cases, driven by BA.4 and BA.5 in many places, are on the rise in 110 countries, causing overall global cases to increase by 20 per cent. Deaths have risen in three of the six WHO regions even as the global figure remains relatively stable.”
Highlighting that Covid-19 is changing but not yet over, Ghebreyesus expressed concern over the slow pace of vaccination in lower-income countries, making the at-risk population in those areas more vulnerable to future waves of the virus. In all countries, 100 per cent of at-risk groups should be vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.
“Even relatively ‘mild’ cases are disruptive and damaging, keeping children out of school and adults from work, which causes further economic and supply chain disruption. Do I think countries should continue vaccinating 70 per cent of the population, starting with the most vulnerable? Yes, I do,” he said.