The number of coronavirus infections is on the rise again in the northern hemisphere, according to the World Health Organisation.
"We continue to see concerning trends for COVID-19 ahead of the winter season in the northern hemisphere," WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Wednesday.
During the colder months, which are just around the corner in the northern hemisphere, people are exposed to a higher risk of infection because they spend more time indoors, said the WHO's top coronavirus expert Maria Van Kerkhove.
According to the UN agency, the coronavirus death toll is on the rise again in parts of the Middle East and Asia, while North America, Europe and Asia are registering a rising number of hospitalisations due to COVID-19.
"We estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of people in hospital now for COVID," Van Kerkhove said.
The WHO experts called on older people and other vulnerable groups to get booster vaccinations if needed.
According to Van Kerkhove, the COVID-19 vaccines currently available also protect against severe illness and death when contracting newer virus variants.
Meanwhile only 42 cases of the new BA.2.86 variant - also known as Pirola -which the WHO has been monitoring since mid-August, have been recorded worldwide in 11 countries, the expert said.