The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against describing the Omicron variant as mild, saying it is killing people across the world.
Recent studies suggest that Omicron is less likely to make people seriously ill than previous Covid variants.
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the record number of people catching it has left health systems under severe pressure.
On Monday, the US recorded more than one million Covid cases in 24 hours.
The WHO said the number of global cases has increased by 71% in the last week, and in the Americas by 100%. It said that among severe cases worldwide, 90% were unvaccinated.
Dr Tedros told a press conference on Thursday; “While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as mild,”
“Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing people and it is killing people.
He added that; “In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world.”