The UN health agency said holiday gatherings and a new variant have fueled coronavirus cases globally with nearly 10,000 deaths in December alone.
The World Health Organization, on Wednesday, said that nearly 10,000 COVID-19 related deaths were reported in December.
Hospital admissions during the month jumped 42 per cent in nearly 50 countries, largely in Europe and the Americas, the UN-backed health agency said. There was also a 62 per cent increase in intensive care unit admissions, compared with November.
“Although 10,000 deaths a month is far less than the peak of the pandemic, this level of preventable deaths is not acceptable,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
This comes when the new JN.1 variant has become the most reported coronavirus variant in the world.
Tedros added that he was “certain” that cases were on the rise in other countries too but were not being reported. He urged governments to keep up surveillance and continued access to treatment.
“We continue to call on individuals to be vaccinated, to test, to wear masks where needed and to ensure crowded indoor spaces are well ventilated,” he said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead at the global health agency for COVID-19, cited an uptick in respiratory diseases across the world due to the coronavirus but also flu, rhinovirus and pneumonia.
“We expect those trends to continue into January through the winter months in the northern hemisphere,” she said.
Dr. Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at WHO, recommend that people get vaccinated when possible and wear masks.
“The vaccines may not stop you being infected, but the vaccines are certainly reducing significantly your chance of being hospitalized or dying,” he said.
The WHO declared an end to COVID-19 as a pandemic in May 2023, over three years after the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China.