US surpasses 800,000 Covid cases as WHO warns of unprecedented variant spread

Washington/Geneva, Dec 14 (EFE).- The United States surpassed 800,000 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest toll in the world, as the World Health Organization warned of the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant.

The US death toll of 800,343, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, came hours after the country exceeded 50 million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

California is the hardest-hit state with 75,599 deaths and 5.8 million cases, followed by Texas (74,959/4.39 million), Florida (62,073/3.72 million) and New York (57,724/2.86 million).

The US continues to be the most affected country in the world with 50.2 million cases, followed by India (34.7 million) and Brazil (22.1 million).

Meanwhile, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday that the Omicron variant has so far been reported in 77 nations, and “the reality is that Omicron is probably in most countries.”

He warned that the variant “is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant.”

“Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” Ghebreyesus added.

The US’ vaccination campaign has accelerated in recent months with 72.2 percent of the population having received one dose, 61 percent are fully immunized, and 27.2 percent have received a booster, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis,” Ghebreyesus said.

“Countries can – and must – prevent the spread of Omicron with measures that work today. It’s not vaccines instead of masks, it’s not vaccines instead of distancing, it’s not vaccines instead of ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well.” EFE


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