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Updated on: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 06:53 PM IST

'An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled': WHO chief warns against 'social mixing' for Christmas, New Year

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus | PIC: AFP

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus | PIC: AFP

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World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday has cautioned against having large gatherings for Christmas and New Year celebrations, saying "an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled".

Amid the rising Omicron threat across the world, he urged people to postpone gatherings and said that holiday get-togethers could lead to “increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths”.

“All of us are sick of this pandemic. All of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal. The fastest way to do this is for all of us leaders and individuals to make the difficult decisions that must be made to protect ourselves and others," Dr. Tedros added.

He also asked the governments to exercise maximum caution in the coming weeks and avoid events with large gatherings.

Since the Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa, it has now been reported in 89 countries and the number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to three days in areas with community transmission, according to the WHO.

The new variant is not more severe than the Delta variant, but is possibly more contagious and resistant to vaccines.

On the inequity in access to vaccines, the WHO chief said: "If we are to end the pandemic in the coming year, we must end inequity."

Meanwhile, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris has also cautioned against "social mixing" during the festival period.

"If you've got a large number of people or a considerable number of people, especially people coming from different places, you don't know what their exposure's been. People coming together in that sort of circumstance is what we call social mixing. That's the moment at which you're most likely to spread COVID-19 and particularly Omicron," she warned.

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Published on: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 06:53 PM IST
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