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COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths may increase with colder weather: WHO

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-09-01 09:02

A mask-on notice is seen at a train station in Sydney, Australia, on July 27, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

GENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday that despite current downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, more hospitalizations and deaths are expected in the coming months as colder weather approaches.

Despite a "welcome decline in reported (COVID-19) deaths globally ... with colder weather approaching in the northern hemisphere, it's reasonable to expect an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists here on Wednesday.

According to the WHO's latest COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, the number of new weekly cases decreased by 9 percent to around 5.3 million during the week of Aug. 15 to Aug. 21 as compared to the previous week. The number of new weekly deaths also decreased by 15 percent as compared to the previous week, with over 14,000 fatalities reported.

The WHO chief said that the current subvariants of Omicron are more transmissible than their predecessors, and the risk of the emergence of even more transmissible and more dangerous variants remains. However, vaccination coverage among the most at-risk people remains too low, especially in low-income countries.

"Even in high-income countries, 30 percent of health workers and 20 percent of older people remain unvaccinated. These vaccination gaps pose a risk to all of us. So, please get vaccinated if you are not, and get a booster if it's recommended that you have one," Tedros said, recommending that people wear masks in crowded indoor spaces.

"Living with COVID-19 doesn't mean pretending the pandemic is over... Likewise, pretending a deadly virus is not circulating is a huge risk. Living with COVID-19 means taking the simple precautions to avoid getting infected, or if you are infected, from getting seriously sick or dying," he said, calling on all governments to update their policies to make best use of the life-saving tools that exist to manage COVID-19 responsibly.

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