WHO: “The tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world.”… Omicron forces crippling closures for small businesses

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Covid: Deadly Omicron should not be called mild, warns WHO. “The tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world.”

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.

But the record number of people catching it has left health systems under severe pressure, said WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

On Monday, the US recorded more than one million Covid cases in 24 hours.

The WHO – the UN’s health agency – 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.

Small businesses have taken hit after hit since the start of the pandemic. They’ve dealt with forced closures during lockdown, Covid-related restrictions on capacity, unruly customers and worker shortages. Now, as the omicron variant spreads and Covid cases again rise, businesses are dealing with a crippling shortage of staff.

Of the 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., about 90 percent have fewer than 20 employees, and roughly 80 percent have fewer than 10 employees, according to the Small Business Administration. That means that when they lose an employee due to absence, the impact is significant.

“In many cases it means that that business owner is doing that job themselves or relying on friends and family,” said Kathryn Petralia, co-founder of Kabbage, a financial company that provides funding to small businesses. “I had a follow-up appointment at a doctor’s office and his wife was the receptionist. She said everybody had Covid so she was filling in.”

 

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