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Amid the surge in Covid-19 cases across Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the public to wear masks and maintain social distancing regardless of vaccination status. 

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that there is a false sense of security that the pandemic’s over and the vaccinated are fully protected against the novel coronavirus.

The WHO chief noted that Covid vaccines save lives and lower the risk of severe disease and death. 

“Even if you’re vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and to infect someone else who could die. That means wearing a mask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space inside," Tedros said.

"We're concerned about a false sense of security that vaccines have ended the #COVID19 pandemic. Vaccines save lives, but they do not fully prevent transmission. So please be careful and:

Wear a mask.

Keep distance.

Avoid crowds.

Open windows.

Clean hands," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted.

 

WHO is convening an emergency meeting today to discuss the potentially rapidly spreading Covid-19 strain found in South Africa and Botswana, the Financial Times reported, citing sources.

Earlier, UK media reports said that scientists from the UK had warned of the appearance of a coronavirus strain, which contains 32 mutations, in Botswana.

Many of the mutations indicate its high transmissibility and resistance to vaccines, the strain has more changes in the spike protein than all other COVID-19 variants, the Russian news agency reported. The South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases later also confirmed that the new strain had been found in South Africa.

Meanwhile, India has called for rigorous screening and testing of fliers coming from these countries. In a letter to states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per Health Ministry guidelines, he said.

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