World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tuesday pointed out that despite an unprecedented low in COVID-19 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic back in March 2020, emergencies still surfacing were not regarded presently as they should.
The WHO chief explained that the emergency had caused severe disruptions to routine immunization programs, thus opening the door to fresh outbreaks of measles and polio, while the number of Ebola cases is growing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in addition to the spread of COVID-19 in China, where harsh restrictions have been adopted, particularly in Shanghai.
The agency insisted that the current drop in COVID-19 deaths has led people to overlook the fact that the virus is still around, with its potentially dangerous new variants.
“Last week, just over 15,000 deaths were reported to WHO – the lowest weekly total since March 2020,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. But while this is “a very welcome trend,” the declining numbers could also be due to substantial cuts in testing. “This makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution,” Tedros said. “When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is not bliss.”
Speaking at the press conference hosted by WHO, FIND global diagnostics alliance chief William Rodriguez said many governments simply stopped looking for COVID-19 cases. “Testing rates have plummeted by 70 to 90% worldwide.”
The pandemic has officially caused over 6 million deaths since the virus first surfaced in China in late 2019.
With most Governments returning to a pre-pandemic way of life, the WHO has yet again warned the situation was not over yet. “This virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it,” Tedros said. It is still spreading, it is still changing, and it is still killing.”
The WHO Director also admitted that although deaths are declining, we still don’t understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive.” On top of that, “the threat of a dangerous new variant remains very real,” he added.
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