Santa 'immune' to COVID, can still make Christmas rounds: WHO

December 16, 2020 - 09:30

GENEVA The pandemic need not deter Santa from traveling the world and handing out gifts this coming Christmas because he is immune to COVID-19, a World Health Organisation official said on Monday.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, WHO's lead on the crisis Maria Van Kerkhove told a press briefing she understood many children were worried how the virus could impact Father Christmas.

"I understand the concern for Santa, because he is of older age," she said, responding to a journalist's question about whether the fantasy, gift-bearing figure, known for his grey whiskers and big belly, might not be at heightened risk from COVID.

"I can tell you that Santa Claus is immune to this virus," said Van Kerkhove, who herself has two young sons.

"We had a brief chat with him and he is doing very well and Mrs Claus is doing very well, and they are very busy right now," she said.

She also said WHO had heard from a number of world leaders, who said they had relaxed the quarantine measures that are hampering global travel and would allow Santa and his flying reindeer to enter their airspace.

"So he will be able to travel in and out of the airspace and be able to deliver presents to children," she said. 

But while seeming eager to help spread the holiday cheer, Van Kerkhove also stuck to the WHO's role of advising how best to stay safe and halt transmission of the virus that has killed more than 1.6 million people in the past year.

"I think it is very important that all the children of the world understand that physical distancing by Santa Claus and also of the children themselves must be strictly enforced," she said.

Kids should listen to their parents and "make sure that they go to bed early on Christmas Eve," she said, stressing that "Santa will be able to travel around the world to deliver presents". AFP