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WHO chief warns more COVID-19 variants could emerge Updated: 2022-01-25 17:20:56 KST

The head of the WHO is insisting it's not safe to assume Omicron will be the last variant of COVID-19.

"But it's dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the end game. On the contrary. Globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge. To change the course of the pandemic, we must change the conditions that are driving it."

However, addressing an executive board meeting of the WHO on Monday, he added the acute phase of the pandemic could still end this year, if certain key targets are met.
To do so, he stressed the international community needs to reach goals like the WHO's target to vaccinate 70 percent of the population of each country by the middle of 2022.
He also stressed that improved testing and sequencing rates are also crucial to track the virus as well as emerging variants.
Battling an intense Omicron surge, Japan is set to expand its quasi-state of emergency to 34 of the country's 47 prefectures.
The measures, which will run through late February, include the shortening of opening hours for multi-use facilities like restaurants and bars.
In China, authorities on Monday lifted the harsh COVID-19 lockdown imposed on the city of Xian.
This comes after a month of some of the toughest public health measures in the world.
However, the drastic lockdown appears to have worked, as the city, home to some 13 million people, has not reported a new case after daily infections hit a peak of over 330 in late December.
The U.S. is also witnessing a drop in new infections, with its average daily new cases over the past seven days dropping to around 690-thousand.
This is down from the country's peak of over 800-thousand reported two weeks ago.
Despite the drop in new cases and hospitalizations across the U.S., COVID-19 deaths hit an 11-month high on Sunday, up 11 percent on-week.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.
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