People who have recovered from COVID-19 are three to five times more likely to be reinfected with the Omicron variant compared to Delta, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) head in Europe has warned.
Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO’s regional director, said Omicron can evade previous immunity in people.
“So it can still infect those who have had COVID-19 in the past, those who are unvaccinated, and those who were vaccinated many months ago. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 are three to five times more likely to be reinfected with Omicron compared to Delta,” he said.
“There are three things that we need to do urgently: protect ourselves through vaccination, prevent further infections, and prepare health systems for a surge in cases.”
Kluge said health authorities must strengthen capacity, increase testing and tracing, engage primary health care in case management, prepare hospitals for a surge, and support health and frontline workers.
“Two years in, our health workers are being severely tested once again. It is deeply worrying that one in five is suffering from anxiety and depression from the pandemic. Their concerns must be addressed and their need for manageable working conditions supported,” the official said.
Europe has recorded over 100 million COVID cases, more than a third of all infections worldwide, since the start of the pandemic.
India witnessed a 21 per cent surge in 24 hours, as it recorded more than 1.4 lakh fresh COVID infections on Friday.
With the addition of 285 new deaths, the offcial death toll stands at 4,83,463 – though several experts believe that is a vast undercount.