WHO: second year of pandemic 'could even be tougher'

WHO: second year of pandemic 'could even be tougher'

The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic may be tougher than the first given how the new coronavirus is spreading, especially in the northern hemisphere as more infectious variants circulate, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"We are going into a second year of this, it could even be tougher given the transmission dynamics and some of the issues that we are seeing," the WHO’s top emergencies official Mike Ryan said during an event on social media.

"Certainly in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America we have seen that sort of perfect storm of the season - coldness, people going inside, increased social mixing and a combination of factors that have driven increased transmission in many, many countries," Ryan said.

The worldwide death toll is approaching 2 million people since the pandemic began, with 91.5 million people infected.

The WHO, in its latest epidemiological update issued overnight, said after two weeks of fewer cases being reported, some five million new cases were reported last week, the likely result of a letdown of defences during the holiday season in which people - and the virus - came together, Reuters reported.

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