New Delhi ,

The World Health Organization today called for stringent implementation of public health and social measures as COVID-19 cases increased in most countries of South-East Asia Region, with some witnessing an exponential rise.

“All preventive and protective measures must be implemented with full earnestness by one and all. Authorities must implement situation specific measure to arrest further spread of the virus. People must adhere to these measures. Masks, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, ventilation, and physical distancing is an absolute must,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.


Though Omicron variant may appear to be less severe, it should not be dismissed as ‘mild’.  Emerging as the most predominant variant, this highly infectious variant is already overwhelming health systems around the world. Globally we are seeing hospitalization and deaths from Omicron, she said.


“We must also not forget that not every COVID-19 case is an Omicron infection. Other variants, including Delta, are also circulating, which, as we know cause severe infections and deaths,” the Regional Director said.


Each positive case of COVID-19 should hence be a cause of concern..


We are aware that COVID-19 virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, for example at a conversational distance. The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated indoor setting or crowded settings.


Often, people who are infectious do not always have symptoms or know that they are carrying the virus, so it is important to ensure good ventilation by opening windows and doors, if possible, when sharing an indoor space with other people.


It is extremely important for people to wear well-fitting masks and avoid crowds and big gatherings, along with taking other measures.


Scaling up COVID-19 vaccination coverage is another key preventive measures for COVID-19, and all efforts must continue to ensure that the high-risk population is protected at the earliest. Even after being fully vaccinated, people must continue to take all preventive and protective measures.


To save lives, we must prevent overburdening of our health systems. An overburdened health system would neither be able to save preventable deaths from COVID-19 nor would it be able to deliver essential services to save lives from other diseases for which people may need surgery and urgent critical care.


“It’s time to do all we can, to arrest the current surge,” the Regional Director said.


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