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WHO experts warn of 'strong likelihood' of more dangerous Covid variants

WHO experts warn of strong likelihood of more dangerous Covid variants

World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday warned about the "strong likelihood" for the emergence of more virulent and dangerous variants of coronavirus that may be more challenging to control.

The emergency committee of the WHO has also warned that the "more dangerous" variants of Covid-19 could tear across the world as global infections soared to half a million daily, largely driven by the virulent Delta strain.

"The pandemic is nowhere near finished," the WHO's emergency committee said in a statement.

Amid the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, the committee noted that Covid-19 continues to evolve with four variants of concern and unanimously agreed that the pandemic still "constitutes an extraordinary event" that poses a health risk to people around the world.

The committee also emphasised the risk of the emergence of new zoonotic diseases while the world is still responding to the ongoing pandemic.

The emergency committee also advises against COVID-19 vaccination proof for travel. The panel maintained its stance that proof of COVID-19 vaccination should not be required for international travel, amid a growing debate on blocking the entry of travellers if they are unvaccinated.

The independent experts said that vaccinations should not be the only condition to permit international travel, given limited global access and inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

"As such, the Committee concurred that the Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered the following advice to the Director-General," it concluded.

Earlier in the day, the health ministry reported addition of 41,806 new coronavirus cases, with deaths rising by 581.

Maharashtra, which has the highest number of cases in the country, added 8,602 cases over a 24-hour period. The fresh cases took the number of infections to over 61.81 lakh and 170 deaths took the cumulative death count to 1,26,390.

Kerala with 15,637 cases leads the state in the most number of Covid cases in a day. It is followed by Maharashtra (8,602), Tamil Nadu (2,458) and Karnataka (1,990).

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