Nearly 10,000 COVID-19 deaths were reported last month, with a surge in intensive care and hospital admissions, according to WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus. Data also indicated that family gatherings during the holidays fueled the virus’ transmission.
Tedros noted in a news conference that while the coronavirus is no longer a global health emergency, it is still ‘changing, circulating, and killing.’
Compared to the previous month, there was a 62 percent increase in ICU admissions and a 42 percent increase in hospitalizations. The trends are gathered from data reported to the WHO from nearly 50 countries, most of which are in the Americas and Europe.
Tedros emphasized that it does not provide the full picture and that it is almost certain that other countries are also seeing increases in COVID-19 cases. However, many of them have reduced or stopped reporting cases altogether, which contributes to the problem.
As of January 2024, the JN.1 variant is the dominant variant reported across the globe. According to Tedros, the new variant is ‘much more adept’ at infecting those who were previously infected or those who have received their vaccinations, compared to previous variants.
While the number of deaths has decreased since the peak of the pandemic, 10,000 COVID-19-related deaths a month is still ‘not acceptable’, Tedros said. He urges governments to provide individuals with treatments and vaccines and to continue monitoring the current situation.
The technical leader at the WHO for the coronavirus, Maria Van Kerkhove, announced at the same conference that other respiratory infections have also gone up over the past weeks – a trend that is expected to continue over the next month.
In the Northern Hemisphere, in particular, there has been an uptick in rhinovirus, influenza, and bacterial pneumonia cases, which is correlated with the world opening back up after the pandemic.
The World Health Organization is urging individuals to take precautions, including wearing masks, testing, and vaccinating. Indoor areas should also be well-ventilated.
The head of emergencies at the WHO, Michael Ryan, noted that while the vaccinations won’t prevent you from being infected by the virus, they will greatly reduce your chance of being hospitalized or dying.
In the United States, coronavirus wastewater levels and hospitalizations are rising across various states. The CDC is urging everyone to get an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster, which will provide the individual with greater protection against the JN. 1 variant.
In Spain, masks have become mandatory again earlier this week in health facilities and hospitals as the country is experiencing a surge in COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory diseases.