‘Omicron offers plausible hope for stabilization, normalization’ of pandemic, says Europe's top WHO official
As some parts of Europe begin to recover from Covid-19’s latest omicron-driven surge, the World Health Organization said Monday that the region is entering a “new phase” of the pandemic.
Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement that omicron offers “plausible hope for stabilization and normalization,” but that it is “far too early to relax.”
Citing omicron’s milder symptoms, lower risk of hospitalization and vaccine efficacy as positive steps forward, Kluge said he is still concerned about the number of unvaccinated people across the globe who are “helping to drive transmission.” He said 2022 must be the “year of vaccine equity in the European Region and beyond.” The WHO’s European region encompasses 53 countries with varying vaccination rates and health care systems.
Kluge’s comments come as the WHO’s executive board convenes Monday in Geneva for their annual agenda-setting meeting. In addressing delegates, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director-general, urged collective vigilance in continuing to fight the pandemic.
“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” he said. “On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”
The organization is asking member-states and donors for an additional $480 million for its next two-year budget period, including $430 million for its emergencies program to coordinate the global response to Covid-19.
Tedros said that without the increase in funding, the WHO will be “set up to fail.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a visit to Hong Kong on the city's handover anniversary on Thursday, told crowds that the city has been “reborn of fire” and “risen from the ashes” in what appeared to be references to the pro-democracy protests quelled by security forces in 2019 and a large-scale Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year.
Hong Kong has 'risen from the ashes', China president Xi Jinping said Thursday on a rare visit to the former British colony. Xi Jinping's was in Hong Kong to celebrate 25 year since it was returned to China and administer the oath of office to the global financial hub's new leader, John Lee. Today was Xi Jinping's first visit to Hong Kong since 2017.
Chaos erupted in Kabul as several explosions and gunfires were reported close to the hall where the 'Loya Jirga' or the grand assembly of religious scholars and elders is underway, local media reported. The exact cause and location of the gunfire is not clear yet. The Freedom Fighters Front in its statement said that its 'special forces' had attacked the Taliban gathering. But the Taliban regime has not said anything, Aamaj News English, reported.
Canada extended all existing Covid-related border restrictions till at least September 30 this year, the government announced on Wednesday. The restrictions include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for everyone except the fully vaccinated, which in this case means having taken the primary series of two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by Canadian health authorities. Those not considered fully vaccinated will also be tested on the first and eighth days after their entry into Canada.
A Congolese woman was kidnapped twice by militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, repeatedly raped and forced to cook and eat human flesh, a Congolese rights group told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. Julienne Lusenge, president of women's rights group Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), told the woman's story while addressing the 15-member council about the conflict-torn east of Congo.