Seven million new cases have been reported across Europe as the region finds itself in the grips of a massive surge of the Omicron variant, which is being described as a “tidal wave.”
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, January 11, the World Health Organization’s Dr Hans Kluge stated that Omicron appears to be sweeping across the region on top of the Delta surge that all countries have been battling to contain since late 2021.
Infections have reportedly more than doubled in a two-week period, reports BBC.
The numbers project a bleak outlook as officials have warned that more than half the population of Europe could be infected with the latest variant within the next two months.
“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next 6 to 8 weeks,” Kluge stated.
According to Kruge, Omicron is quickly becoming the dominant strain in western Europe as it makes its way through the Balkans with nearly 50 of the 53 countries in Europe and central Asia reporting cases of Omicron, as per Business Insider.
However, vaccines still remain the primary method with which to fight COVID.
“Currently approved [Covid-19] vaccines do continue to provide good protection against severe disease and death, including for Omicron.”
Despite the glimmer of hope, the tidal wave is still putting immense pressure on healthcare systems.
“It is challenging health systems and service delivery in many countries where Omicron has spread at speed, and threatens to overwhelm in many more,” he said.
As of a few days ago, South Africa recorded 4 482 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, with 82 related deaths.
Picture: Ludovic Marin