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Omicron especially dangerous for unvaccinated: WHO

The global surge in cases was being driven by Omicron, which is more transmissible than the previously dominant Delta variant.

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Omicron especially dangerous for unvaccinated: WHO
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Geneva: The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is dangerous -- and especially so for those who have not been vaccinated against the disease, the World Health Organization warned Wednesday.

The WHO said the global surge in cases was being driven by Omicron, which is more transmissible than the previously dominant Delta variant.

More than 15 million cases were reported to the WHO last week -- with millions more cases thought to have gone unrecorded.

But the UN health agency insisted there should be no surrender to the variant, dismissing the notion that it could be a welcome conduit to ending the pandemic.

"While Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus -- particularly for those who are unvaccinated," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.

"We mustn't allow this virus a free ride or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world remain unvaccinated."

The "overwhelming majority" of people admitted to hospitals are unjabbed, he added.

While vaccines remain very effective at preventing death and severe Covid-19 disease, they do not fully prevent transmission, said Tedros.

"More transmission means more hospitalisations, more deaths, more people off work -- including teachers and health workers -- and more risk of another variant emerging that is even more transmissible and more deadly than Omicron."

Tedros said that the numbers of deaths worldwide had stabilised at around 50,000 per week.

"Learning to live with this virus does not mean we can, or should, accept this number of deaths," he said.

VACCINE INEQUITY 

Tedros wanted every country to have 10 percent of their population vaccinated by the end of September 2021, 40 percent by the end of December, and 70 percent by mid-2022.

But 90 countries have still not reached 40 percent -- with 36 of them still short of the 10-percent mark, he said.

"In Africa, over 85 percent of people are yet to receive a single dose of vaccine. We can't end the acute phase of the pandemic unless we close this gap," said Tedros.

Wealthier countries had made it "three times as hard" for dose-starved low-income nations by exporting misinformation rather than vaccines, said Bruce Aylward, the WHO's frontman on accessing coronavirus tools.

The WHO says Omicron had been identified in 149 countries by January 6.

Some hope that due to its increased transmissibility, Omicron will replace more severe variants and see Covid-19 shift from a pandemic into an endemic disease that is more manageable.

But WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said: "This is not the time to declare this is a welcome virus."

Maria Van Kerkhove the WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, said it was difficult to predict the road ahead and Omicron was unlikely to be the last variant preoccupying minds at the UN health agency.

"We expect the virus will continue to evolve and become more fit... we expect to see outbreaks among unvaccinated individuals," she said.

"The virus is well on its way to becoming endemic -- but we're not there yet."

Meanwhile Tedros said pregnant women were not at higher risk of catching Covid-19, but were at higher risk of developing severe disease if they did so.

He called for pregnant women to have access to vaccines, and to be included in trials for new treatments and jabs.

SOURCE: AFP 

 

Siddra Sumreen

Syeda Siddra has been working as a web journalist for over the past seven years. She earned her M.Phil degree in Mass Communication from the Lahore Leads University. Ms. Siddra has previously worked with other renowned channels and is now associated with GNN as Senior Content Writer.

Pakistan

Pakistan Navy seizes huge cache of drugs in Arabian Sea raid

Pakistan Navy is vigilant to counter any illegal activity and safeguard its maritime borders.

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Pakistan Navy seizes huge cache of drugs in Arabian Sea raid

Karachi: Pakistan Navy during action in the Arabian Sea foiled a bid to smuggle narcotics worth millions of dollars.

According to PN’s spokesperson, Pakistan Navy Ship DEHSHAT in collaboration with PN air units seized approximately 4500 Kilograms of drugs at the North Arabian Sea. While undertaking maritime security operations, PNS DEHSHAT intercepted the suspicious dhow and recovered a large cache of drugs valued approximately 6.7 million dollars in the international market.

The spokesperson said that the successful operation by the Pakistan Navy in the seizure of a huge quantity of narcotics is a testimony to the fact that Pakistan Navy remains combatted to fulfill national and international obligations and maintaining good order at sea. Pakistan Navy is vigilant to counter any illegal activity and safeguard its maritime borders.

The successful execution of the anti-narcotics operation is a demonstration of the Pakistan Navy's resolve to deter and disrupt illegal activities in the maritime zone of Pakistan, the PN spokesperson said.

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Pakistan

SC dismisses govt’s contempt of court plea against Imran Khan

The government filed the plea against PTI this morning

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SC dismisses govt’s contempt of court plea against Imran Khan

Islamabad: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has refused to take contempt of court action against PTI Chairman Imran Khan for violating the apex court’s orders during ‘Azadi March’.

The government filed the plea this morning after the PTI openly defied the apex court’s directives, announcing to hold a rally at D-Chowk in Islamabad’s prohibited Red Zone.

The SC formed a five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, to hear the contempt of court plea At the outset of the hearing, Attorney-General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf read out the SC verdict before the court.

The court dismissed a petition filed by the federal government, saying that activists were not responsible as they act on the directives of party leadership. It also ordered the release of 20 activists who were booked for rioting and violence.

However, following the reports of violence and mayhem during the protest brought before the Court, the Court has now decided to issue a comprehensive order after pondering over the matter keeping in view the nature of assembly and association so that it can serve as a guideline to the practice of constitutional rights in future.

The Court observed that fundamental rights of assembly, association, and movement are not unlimited, but there are certain limits to them.     

At the outset of the hearing today, Attorney-General of Pakistan, Ashtar Ausaf Ali presented his submissions before the Court pointing out the violations of the Court's order by PTI.

He also mentioned before the court the breach of allowed venue and entering the D-Chowk by PTI workers, burning public property and trees, injuring the security forces personnel, and creating turmoil in the federal capital.

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Pakistan

Pakistan’s progress linked with Constitution’s supremacy, rule of law: PM

He lauded Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif for dealing with the challenge effectively.

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Pakistan’s progress linked with Constitution’s supremacy, rule of law: PM

Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said the progress of Pakistan was linked with the supremacy of the Constitution and ensuring the rule of law.

The prime minister expressed these views in an interaction with the personnel of law enforcement agencies, who were deployed in the Red Zone to ensure law and order during the long march of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

PM Sharif lauded the personnel of Rangers, Islamabad Police, and the capital’s Traffic Police for rendering their duties professionally and protecting the lives and property of the people.

The prime minister appreciated the dedication of the law enforcement personnel to performing their official duties regardless of their political affiliation.

He lauded Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif for dealing with the challenge effectively.

The prime minister emphasized unity among all the ranks of the nation to eliminate the scourge of anarchy and chaos.

He stressed everyone to demonstrate the spirit of sacrifice and patriotism to make the homeland a citadel of peace.

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