Lockdown should be last resort to curb Omicron: WHO

New Delhi: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), enforcing a lockdown to reduce the risk of the Omicron variant may prove too costly and should be used as a last resort.

The new super mutant Omicron variant of Kovid-19 is said to be quite dangerous, in which more than 30 mutants on the spike protein are said to be capable of badly infecting human cells. This variant was first found in South Africa and after that it is spreading rapidly and has affected more than 24 countries including India, Sri Lanka, USA, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands and UK.

Dr. Poonam Khetrapal, Regional Director for South-East Asia at WHO, said, strengthen surveillance, implement calibrated public health and social measures to detect any new variant arrivals and rapid transmission of existing virus and its variants. Our focus should be on increasing vaccination coverage and immunization coverage.

However studies are underway to evaluate Omicron’s severity, risk, and potential for immunosuppression. Preliminary tests have shown that this variant can spread much faster than others, which can lead to a spike in cases soon.

He added, however, that it would be reasonable to assume that currently available vaccines provide protection against serious illness and death.

He emphasized on further intensifying efforts to accelerate the spread of COVID 19 vaccination coverage.

Following reports from South Africa and Botswana about the Omicron variant, several countries including the US and UK have decided to impose travel restrictions or quarantine period rules for travelers from several African countries.

But according to Khetrapal, mass travel restrictions will not stop the international virus spread and instead, it will put a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. Furthermore, such restrictions could adversely affect global health efforts during a pandemic by discouraging countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data.

He further said, the option of imposing a lockdown to reduce the transmission of the virus, though effective, is a very costly measure and should be used as a last resort.

The regional director said, we cannot and should not allow the virus and its variants to continue to spread, grow and challenge us. We need to do everything possible to reduce its spread.

He said that the use of masks, physical distancing, ventilation of the indoor space, avoidance of crowds and hand hygiene are important to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, even as effective measures are taken to avoid emerging variants. .

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