The World Health Organization has warned that half of Europe could be infected by Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant, over the next two months.
The projection was based on the seven million new cases reported across Europe in the first week of 2022.
The pattern was described by WHO European director Hans Kluge as a “west-to-east tidal wave” set to sweep through the 53 countries under WHO’s European umbrella.
“How each country now responds must be informed by its epidemiological situation, available resources, vaccination uptake status and socio-economic context”, Hans Kluge said.
Omicron makes up more than a third of known active cases of the COVID-19 virus in Malta, according to Health Minister Chris Fearne.
While the variant is less likely to trigger serious illness, it is still contagious and can infect people despite a full vaccination status.
Rapid rates of infection now spark concern, with many fearing the country’s ability to keep up with the strain wrought by the pandemic.
Currently, Malta has 13,104 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Despite the high number of active cases, nine patients currently require ITU care.
On Monday, the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer said it would be able to launch a version of its vaccine that offers special protection against Omicron, to be rolled out in March.
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