Holiday season

WHO says ‘we may be tired of the pandemic, the virus is not tired of us’

New Delhi, first published 24 Dec 2021, 00:12 IST

Even if an individual is vaccinated and doing their best to stay safe, Omicron is still so transmissible that the person may come into contact with the coronavirus variant at some point, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said. health, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

Stating that the Omicron variant showed exponential growth, was the most transmissible and able to break through vaccine protection more easily than Delta or other variants that precede it, Dr Swaminathan stressed that social measures remain essential tools to reduce the number of infections.

The WHO’s chief scientist said one of the best ways to stay safe during the holiday season is through vaccination. While admitting that vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection with Omicron, Dr Swaminathan said vaccines still provide significant protection against a severe type of the disease.

Dr Swaminathan sought to drive home the message that while vaccination is crucial to fighting the pandemic, it alone would not be enough. She said: “The virus is not tired of us, although we may be tired of the pandemic. While seeing loved ones is essential for our mental and physical health, gathering large crowds is where the virus can be particularly prolific. We’ve seen cases where the Omicron spreads more effectively than ever from airplanes, nightclubs, and even hotel quarantine.

“Since the coronavirus is a respiratory virus, which spreads mainly through the air, it is essential to know how to best protect yourself. By talking, singing and even just breathing, infected people can easily transmit the virus. to others you are and the more time you spend with someone who is sick, the more likely you are to contract the virus,” she added.

The WHO’s chief scientist noted that viral transmission is further optimized in indoor settings where windows and doors are closed, ventilation is poor and people are not wearing masks. While Dr Swaminathan said she understood the fatigue of using video-sharing platforms for far too many aspects of people’s lives, she advised that if people go out to meet friends or family, they should try to do this outdoors and in as small a group as possible.

And if you were inviting someone over, Dr. Swaminathan advised people to try to keep the windows open so there is regular ventilation. If it is too cold outside, open the windows at regular intervals so that fresh air can circulate. Additionally, she highlighted how wearing good quality, well-fitting masks can really help reduce infection.

Citing evidence suggesting that universal wearing of masks could significantly reduce infection risks, Dr Swaminathan described masks as a vaccine in people’s pockets. She said festive seasons can be difficult to navigate during a pandemic, but through vaccination and public health measures, the risk could be minimized and people can still spend time with loved ones.

Also Read: Omicron Threat: Center Advises States to Consider Local Restrictions and Step Up Vaccination

Also Read: PM Modi Holds Review Meeting on COVID-19 Situation Amid Omicron Threat

Last updated Dec 24, 2021 12:21 a.m. IST

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