Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday warned the world that fresh waves of COVID-19 cases show that the pandemic is “nowhere near over.” In a media briefing on COVID-19, the WHO chief said, “I am concerned that cases of COVID-19 continue to rise – putting further pressure on stretched health systems and health workers – and deaths are unacceptably high.”
Concerned that cases of Covid-19 continue to rise: WHO chief
He urged governments to regularly review and adjust their COVID-19 response plans based on the current epidemiology and also the potential for new variants to appear. The Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met last week and concluded that the virus remains a public health emergency of international concern.
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“I am concerned that cases of COVID-19 continue to rise – putting further pressure on stretched health systems and health workers – and deaths are unacceptably high,” said Dr Tedros.
He further elaborated on Emergency Committee on COVID-19 concerns about several interlinked challenges. “Sub-variants of Omicron, like BA.4 and BA.5, continue to drive waves of cases, hospitalisation and death around the world,” said WHO chief.
Covid-19 surveillance has dropped
The committee further raised the issue of surveillance that has reduced significantly – including testing and sequencing – making it increasingly difficult to assess the impact of variants on transmission, disease characteristics, and the effectiveness of counter-measures. It also highlighted diagnostics, treatments and vaccines which were not being deployed effectively.
Dr Tedros advised planning and tackling of the pandemic, he said, “Planning and tackling COVID19 should also go hand-in-hand with vaccinating for killer diseases like measles, pneumonia & diarrhoea. It`s not a question of either/or, it`s possible to do both. And new vaccines, including HPV and malaria, should continue to be introduced.”
WHO chief calls for vaccination and increased testing
He underscored the importance of the vaccination. “Vaccines have saved millions of lives and it`s important for governments to focus on boosting those most at-risk communities, finding the unvaccinated so as to build up the wall of immunity toward the 70 per cent vaccination target,” said the WHO chief.
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He advised governments to reverse the reduction in surveillance, testing and sequencing, and share anti-virals effectively” adding, I urge governments to regularly review and adjust their COVID-19 response plans based on the current epidemiology and also the potential for new variants to appear.”
“As COVID-19 transmission and hospitalisations rise, governments must also deploy tried and tested measures like masking, improved ventilation and test and treat protocols,” he added.
He also called for equitable distribution of health tools.”As @g20org finance ministers meet next week, it is critical that governments around the world finance WHO and the @ACTAccelerator to ensure the equitable distribution of health tools,” said Dr Tedros.
He said that as the COVID-19 virus, we must push back adding that world is in a much better position than at the beginning of the pandemic. “We have safe and effective tools that prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths,” said WHO chief.