World Health Organisation Chief Has 'Never Been More Concerned' About Pandemic As Omicron Soars

Dr David Nabarro warns variant will be "a thousand times more serious in four weeks".

A World Health Organisation chief has issued a dire warning about the exponential rise of Omicron in the UK as Covid cases hit a record high.

Dr David Nabarro, special envoy on Covid-19 for the WHO, said he has never been as concerned about the pandemic as he is now as he spelled out how quickly the variant is spreading the disease.

He told Sky News it is now “an emergency situation for the British health service”.

Dr Nabarro said: “I’ve been watching this pandemic and working on it since January 2020 and I have never been more concerned than I am tonight, not just about the UK but about the world.”

He added: “It will get extremely serious within the next two weeks, perhaps quicker.

“I do hope that everybody who was watching that (Downing Street) press conference realised just how serious the situation is in the UK.”

It came as professor Chris Whitty said at a news briefing people should “prioritise what matters to them” when considering attending parties and other events during the Christmas period.

Boris Johnson said he agreed with England’s chief medical officer about people being cautious as the Omicron variant surged – but with no further restrictions mooted, critics will point to mixed messaging.

Their warnings at a Downing Street press conference were quickly met with calls for greater support for the hospitality industry, as people weigh up whether to risk nights out or cancel and spend Christmas with their families.

The UK recorded the highest daily total of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began when 78,610 new cases were announced on Wednesday.

Dr Nabarro urged “every single human being” to “minimise contact to what is absolutely essential”.

He said the Omicron variant is spreading “superfast” and that the strain has “a doubling time of numbers of cases every two to three days’.

“That means that (Omicron) will be eight times more serious in one week. Forty times more serious in two weeks. Three hundred or four hundred times more serious in three weeks. Over a thousand times more serious in four weeks.”

He warned the escalating caseload, including many people who have had both vaccinations, will add stress to already overworked health systems worldwide.

“If we are lucky then we won’t have high death rates but we will still get a very heavy load on health services and therefore on hospitals,” he said.


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