WHO: Stay the course


GENEVA A worrisome rise in Covid-19 cases after weeks of falling infections is seen and a senior World Health Organization doctor urged people to observe counter-measures to check the virus even as vaccinations continue.

Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the WHO’s leading infectious diseases experts said weeks of a downward trend in infections had been encouraging, but warned that people need to “stay the course” as “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

“While vaccines are being rolled out in many countries around the world, we need to continue to stay the course,” she said.

She also noted that several countries countries had reported a resurgence of rising case numbers in the last two weeks.

“This is quite concerning. And the reason is the world right now is quite fatigued with this pandemic,” Kerkhove said.

A marked increase in Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas, compared to the previous week, following six weeks of decline.

“What we’re worried about is that with the introduction of vaccines and vaccination in a number of countries, we still need people to carry out their individual-level measures,” she said, citing basic steps long-recommended by the WHO.

These include carrying out physical distancing, working from home, if asked to, wearing a mask, and ensuring hand hygiene. People should seek adequate ventilation, open windows and avoid crowded spaces.

Meanwhile, Mike Ryan, the head of the health body’s emergencies program, said the virus had “no respect for dates”.

“We may be relaxing a little before we’ve got the full impact of vaccination. And I know everyone is just so tired of this and so exhausted and weary,” he said.

He said every time countries relaxed too soon, “the number of cases has risen rapidly,” along with hospitalizations following by climbing deaths.

Ryan noted that 265 million doses of vaccines had been administered.

“But remember, 80 percent of those doses have been omitted in just 10 countries so far,” said Ryan while noting that “we’ve had a huge success of the science and the ramp up production of vaccines.”

Campaigns have now started to put jabs in arms in 115 different economies, “but many countries are well behind,” said Ryan. (JSM/JuanManila)

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