Covid remains 'global health emergency': WHO
January 31, 2023  14:57
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a global health emergency and the deadly virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future, according to the World Health Organisation.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that as the world enters the fourth year of the pandemic, there is no doubt that "we are in a far better situation now" than a year ago when the Omicron wave was at its peak. He said Covid-19 continues to be a health emergency.
"Three years ago today, I declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global spread of COVID-19 the highest level of alarm under the International Health Regulations, and for the moment, the only level of alarm," Ghebreyesus said
He said he has been advised by the Emergency Committee for coronavirus disease that "COVID-19 remains a global health emergency".
The Committee acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching an "inflexion point".
"Achieving higher levels of population immunity globally, either through infection and/or vaccination, may limit the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on morbidity and mortality, but there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future," it said.
It noted that while eliminating the virus from human and animal reservoirs is highly unlikely, mitigation of its devastating impact on morbidity and mortality is achievable and should continue to be a "prioritised goal".
Ghebreyesus cautioned that since the beginning of December, weekly reported deaths have been rising and in the past eight weeks, more than 170,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19.
"We can't control the virus, but we can do more to address the vulnerabilities in populations and health systems," he said, adding that this means vaccinating 100 per cent of the most at-risk groups.
It also means increasing access to testing and early antiviral use; taking context-specific measures when there is a surge in cases; and maintaining and expanding laboratory networks. -- PTI
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