The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) warned Tuesday there is too much at stake to celebrate Christmas this year, cautioning it is better to either cancel or postpone the annual festivities than risk the death of a loved one.
W.H.O. director-general and Ethiopian biologist Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in Geneva the “fastest way” to “get back to normal” is for people to cancel or delay Christmas events, the Daily Mail reports.
Dr. Ghebreyesu continued to say, “an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled. It’s better to cancel now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and grieve later.”
The W.H.O. has not previously issued a global decree to cancel any other religious holidays such as the Muslim’s Eid or the Hindu’s Diwali as a result of coronavirus.
Dr. Margaret Harris, a public health doctor and spokesperson for the W.H.O., in an interview with Sky News did initially advise against nations locking down, citing the “huge implications” they have on mental health and the economy. However, Dr. Harris did also mention that lockdowns “do work”, and governments will use them if “they run out of options”, such as “when the hospitals are overwhelmed”.
The other key component of the W.H.O. spokesperson’s advice for the Christmas period was the encouragement of vaccines. Dr. Harris commented while “wearing the mask” and “the distancing” will protect individuals they still need to “really, really seriously, get vaccinated”.
Harris went on to suggest people shouldn’t “just get vaccinated”, but if individuals are aware of someone who’s “still struggling with the idea of being vaccinated”, that they should “help them to get vaccinated”.
Additionally, if people were going to have Christmas gatherings Harris advised them to consider individuals’ vaccine status if they were going to attend the event.
The Director General Dr. Tedros echoed this message suggesting that if “70 percent” of every country’s population was vaccinated by mid-2022, the coronavirus pandemic could be ended by 2023.
While pushing for increased vaccine uptake Dr. Tedros did also mention that the omicron variant “is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant” and people who are vaccinated are “more likely” to be “be infected or re-infected”.