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World Health Organization warns ‘tsunami’ of Omicron cases will pressure hospital systems on the ‘brink of collapse’

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on December 20, 2021 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

  • The WHO’s Director-General says a ‘tsunami’ of COVID-19 cases will pressure already-stressed hospital systems. 
  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is concerned that Omicron cases are rising while the Delta variant is still out there. 
  • The World Health Organization’s warning comes as the US is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections.

The head of the World Health Organization warned a “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant will pressure hospital systems already on the “brink of collapse.”

“I am highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases. This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse,” the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Tuesday. 

Ghebreyesus warning comes as the US is in the midst of a historic surge of new COVID-19 infections. On Monday, the country reported more than 440,000 new COVID-19 infections in one day, shattering the previous record set in January 2021.

While that figure may be abnormally high due to slower reporting over the holiday weekend, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is also on track to break a pandemic record, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Omicron variant was estimated to represent almost 60% of all cases in the US last week, according to the CDC.

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