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The World Health organization (WHO) estimated that 9% of the world population now had some resistance to Covid-19, but warned that a troubling new variant could still emerge.

"WHO estimates that at least 90 percent of the world's population now has some level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to prior infection or vaccination," said Tedros, referring to the virus that causes Covid-19 disease.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said gaps in vigilance were leaving the door open for a new virus variant to appear and overtake the globally dominant Omicron.

"We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over -- but we're not there yet," he said.

“Gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality," he added.

Last weekend marked one year since the WHO announced Omicron as a new variant of concern in the Covid-19 pandemic. It has since swept round the world, proving significantly more transmissible than its predecessor, Delta.

Tedros said there were now more than 500 highly transmissible Omicron sub-lineages circulating -- all able to get around built-up immunity more easily, even if they tended to be less severe than previous variants.

According to Tedros, countries have reported 6.6 million deaths, from nearly 640 million registered cases. But the UN health agency says this will be a massive undercount, and unreflective of the true toll.

Tedros said more than 8,500 people were recorded as having lost their lives to Covid last week.

.Meanwhile, China has continued to reel from the pandemic severely. The country reported 33,073 Covid-19 infection on 2 December.

However, case count is slipping as China loosens restrictions in some cities, including testing requirements and quarantine rules, and is expected to announce an easing of its Covid quarantine protocols in the coming days.

China's capital Beijing reported 703 symptomatic and 2,610 asymptomatic cases, compared with 942 symptomatic and 3,026 asymptomatic cases the previous day.

Financial hub Shanghai reported 27 symptomatic cases and 264 asymptomatic cases, compared with 26 symptomatic cases and 209 asymptomatic cases a day before.

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