The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a warning to world leaders that the coronavirus pandemic “is nowhere near over”.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned against the assumption that the newly dominant Omicron variant is significantly milder and has eliminated the threat posed by the virus.

The intervention comes as some European nations saw record new case numbers.

France reported nearly half a million new daily cases on Tuesday.

Speaking during a news conference at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Dr Tedros told reporters that the Omicron variant had led to 18 million new infections across the world over the past week.

While the variant may prove to be less severe on average, “the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading,” he said.

“Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities.”