The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition)

‘Critical point’ for pandemic: Expert

- TED HENNESSEY

The coronaviru­s pandemic is at a “critical point” and people need a “reality check” as restrictio­ns are eased, a World Health Organisati­on (WHO) expert has warned.

Dr Maria van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s technical response, said vaccinatio­ns alone are not enough to combat Covid-19.

It comes as coronaviru­s restrictio­ns were eased in England and Wales yesterday, with shoppers returning to high streets and drinkers visiting pub gardens in England, and non-essential retailers reopening in Wales.

School pupils returned in Fife yesterday as part of Scotland’s easing of restrictio­ns, with further measures planned to be lifted on April 26.

They would see the full reopening of hospitalit­y venues like cafes, pubs and restaurant­s in Scotland, permitted to open until 8pm indoors with no alcohol and 10pm outdoors with alcohol.

Up to four people from two households will be able to socialise indoors in a public place, while up to six people from three households will be able to socialise outdoors.

All remaining retail premises will reopen, along with gyms for individual exercise.

Dr van Kerkhove yesterday urged caution, saying: “We need headlines around these public health and social measures, we need headlines around the tools that we have right now that can prevent infections and save lives.

“We are in a critical point of the pandemic right now, the trajectory of this pandemic is growing.

“It’s the seventh week in a row where we’ve had more than 4.4 million new cases reported in the last week (around the world).

“If you compare that to a year ago we had about 500,000 cases being reported per week... the trajectory of the pandemic right now is growing exponentia­lly.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures. It is time right now where everyone has to take stock and have a reality check about what we need to be doing.

“Take a look at what people are doing and how you are mixing, make sure you are doing the right steps that you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

“We need government­s to support individual­s so that the control measures in place are applied consistent­ly and are applied in a coherent manner.

“It is vaccines but it’s not vaccines only – it’s vaccines

and what can you be doing everyday, what can you be doing to keep yourself safe and your loved ones safe.”

WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s also warned that vaccines are not the “only tool” to combat coronaviru­s.

He added: “This pandemic is a long way from over, but we have many reasons for optimism.

“The decline in... 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.”

“The trajectory of the pandemic right now is growing exponentia­lly

 ??  ?? REALITY CHECK: Dr Maria van Kerkhove at a press conference in Geneva yesterday.
REALITY CHECK: Dr Maria van Kerkhove at a press conference in Geneva yesterday.

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