Covid-19 pandemic 'nowhere near over': WHO

It's not over yet.

Belmont Lay | July 13, 2022, 04:06 PM

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The Covid-19 pandemic is "nowhere near over" and the virus is "running freely" given the fresh waves of infections, the World Health Organization's chief warned on July 12.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was worried that health systems and workers will be burdened as case numbers continue to rise.

"New waves of the virus demonstrate again that Covid-19 is nowhere near over," he told a news conference, as reported by AFP.

He added: "As the virus pushes at us, we must push back."

This latest warning is the same one he issued in January 2022, when he said at that time the fast-spreading Omicron variant was circulating globally: “This pandemic is nowhere near over.”

Covid-19 still a public health emergency

Despite more than two years since Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the world, the number of cases have not fallen significantly and remains a public health problem.

"The virus is running freely and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden based on their capacity, in terms of both hospitalisation for acute cases and the expanding number of people with post-Covid condition, often referred to as Long Covid," Tedros said.

"As Covid-19 transmission and hospitalisations rise, governments must also deploy tried and tested measures like masking, improved ventilation and test and treat protocols."

The WHO's emergency committee on Covid-19 determined the pandemic remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern following a July 8 video-conference.

This is the highest alarm the WHO can sound.

Covid-19 cases increased in July 2022

The meeting also heard that global Covid-19 cases reported to the WHO increased by 30 per cent in the last two weeks from late-June onwards.

The surge was largely due to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, as well as the lifting of public health and social measures.

The current concern stems from the recent changes in testing policies that hinder the detection of cases and the monitoring of virus evolution.

The WHO said in a statement on July 11 that there is a need to reduce transmission of the virus as the implications of a pandemic caused by a new respiratory virus would not be fully understood.

It also voiced concern over steep reductions in testing, resulting in reduced surveillance and genomic sequencing, leading to an inability to interpret trends in transmission.

This increases the likelihood of "new, fitter variants emerging, with different degrees of virulence, transmissibility, and immune escape potential".

Top photo via Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Facebook