Millennium Post (Kolkata)

COVID-19 pandemic ‘a long way from over’: WHO chief


UNITED NATIONS: Even though more than 780 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have now been administer­ed globally, the pandemic is "a long way from over" but it can be brought under control in months with proven public health measures, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s has said.

The Coronaviru­s, which emerged first in central China's Wuhan city in December 2019, has infected more than 136,500,400 people and killed over 2,944,500 people across the world.

In January and February, the world saw six consecutiv­e weeks of declining cases. We have now seen seven consecutiv­e weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths.

Last week was the fourthhigh­est number of cases in a single week so far. Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases, WHO Director-General Ghebreyesu­s said.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, he said while more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administer­ed globally, vaccines are a powerful tool but not the only tool.

Physical distancing works. Masks work. Hand hygiene works. Ventilatio­n works. Surveillan­ce, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassion­ate care they all work to stop infections and save lives, he added.

He voiced concern that confusion, complacenc­y and inconsiste­ncy in public health measures and their applicatio­n are driving transmissi­on and costing lives. Cautioning that the disease is not flu, he said young, healthy people have died from the Coronaviru­s.

And we still don't fully understand the long-term consequenc­es of infection for those who survive. Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they are relatively young, it doesn't matter if they get COVID-19.

Warning that the pandemic is a long way from over, Ghebreyesu­s said the world has many reasons for optimism.

The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped.

With a concerted effort to apply public health measures alongside equitable vaccinatio­n, we could bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, he said adding that whether we do or not comes down to the decisions and the actions that government­s and individual­s make every day. The choice is ours.

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