A woman takes a COVID-19 test at a pop-up testing site in New York City. Several countries have reported record high infection figures in recent days [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

● Infection rates are surging in many parts of the world, fuelled by the spread of the highly-infectious Omicron variant ●

(AL JAZEERA) — The risk posed by the Omicron variant is still “very high”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, after COVID-19 case numbers shot up by 11 percent globally last week.

Omicron is behind the rapid virus spikes, the WHO said in its COVID weekly epidemiological update, having overtaken the previously dominant Delta variant in several nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

The update came after a number of countries reported record high infection figures in recent days.

“The rapid circulation of the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 worldwide is creating a “tsunami of cases”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says.

Addressing reporters at a news briefing, Tedros also repeated his call for countries to share vaccines more equitably and warned that the emphasis on delivering booster jabs in richer countries could leave poorer nations short of shots.

He said hitting a 70 percent global vaccination target could help bring about an end to the acute phase of the pandemic.