The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned world leaders that the coronavirus pandemic is “far from over”.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against assuming that the newly prevalent Omicron form is substantially milder and that the virus is no longer a threat.
The action comes as some European countries report new case counts that are at all-time highs.
Daily, approximately half a million new cases are recorded in France.
For the first time since the pandemic began, more than 100,000 new infections were recorded in Germany on Wednesday, in less than 24 hours.
At a news briefing at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Tedros informed reporters at a news briefing that the Omicron variety had caused 18 million new infections around the world in the previous week.
As the new Omicron variety spreads across Europe, new coronavirus infections are becoming more common.
On Tuesday, officials in Denmark reported a daily record of 33,493 new cases of COVID-19, while health officials in Italy reported 228,179 new infections, up from 83,403 the day before. On Wednesday, Germany recorded a new high of 112,323 new cases, while the incidence rate of illnesses per 100,000 people reached a new high of 584.4 during the previous week.
In the meantime, France reported 464,769 new daily infections on Tuesday, up from 102,144 on Monday and setting a daily record for the pandemic. Infections are now averaging over 300,000 new cases each day weekly.
During the latest increase, French officials are also embroiled in a conflict with teachers’ unions, who have called for a second major strike this week to protest the government’s COVID testing and isolation rules, which they claim are causing serious disruptions in the classroom.
New cases have begun to emerge in Ireland in recent days, with health minister Stephen Donnelly telling public broadcaster RTÉ that limitations imposed over the Christmas and New Year holidays may be eased by the end of the month. Government authorities in the United Kingdom are due to examine coronavirus limitations on Wednesday, despite a drop in daily infections.