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Covid-19: nearly 10,000 deaths in December 2023, according to the WHO

Covid-19: nearly 10,000 deaths in December 2023, according to the WHO
The logo and building of the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 15 April 2020   -  
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Martial Trezzina/AP


The head of the United Nations health agency says holiday gatherings and the spread of the largest variant globally have led to an increase in Covid-19 transmission on last month.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nearly 10,000 deaths were reported in December, while hospitalizations during the month jumped 42% in nearly 50 countries - mainly in Europe and the Americas - which shared this information on trends.

“Although 10,000 deaths per month is well below the peak of the pandemic, this level of preventable deaths is not acceptable,” the director-general of the World Health Organization told reporters from his headquarters in Geneva.

He said he was "certain" that cases were increasing in other places that have not been reported, calling on governments to maintain surveillance and ensure continued access to treatments and vaccines.

Dr. Tedros said the JN.1 variant was now the most prevalent in the world. This is an Omicron variant, so current vaccines should still provide some protection.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19, spoke of an increase in respiratory illnesses worldwide due to the coronavirus, but also influenza, rhinovirus and pneumonia.

“We expect these trends to continue into January throughout the winter months in the northern hemisphere,” she said while noting an increase in Covid-19 in the southern hemisphere – where It’s currently summer.

Although coughing fits, sniffles, fevers and fatigue in winter are nothing new, Van Kerkhove said this year in particular. “We are seeing co-circulation of many different types of pathogens. ”

WHO officials recommend that people get vaccinated, if possible, wear masks and ensure indoor spaces are well-ventilated.

“Vaccines may not prevent you from getting infected, but they certainly significantly reduce your chances of being hospitalized or dying,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at WHO.

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