| 15 April 2024, Monday |

‘Covid pandemic still not over’, WHO warns as new cases emerge

The World Health Organization’s chief warned that is COVID-19 “nowhere near over”, calling for more strict surveillance and pushing for vaccine intake.

He made his remarks while citing that the number of new cases worldwide has risen by 30 per cent in the last two weeks.

“New waves of the virus demonstrate again that COVID-19 is nowhere near over,” WHO Director-General Tedros told a news conference, adding: “As the virus pushes at us, we must push back.”

According to Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, the recent increase in the number of newly reported COVID-19 cases has been largely driven by Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, and by the lifting of public health and social measures.

Recent changes in testing policies have also been hindering the detection of new cases and the monitoring of the evolution of the virus, he said.

Tedros suggested that governments should regularly review and adjust their COVID19 response plans based on the current epidemiology and also the potential for new variants to appear. “Governments should also work to reverse the reduction in surveillance, testing and sequencing, and share anti-virals effectively.”

Europe is at the centre of a new wave of cases driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron sub-variants as people attend large gatherings and resume traveling after two years of staying close to home.

In England, an estimated 2.1 million people, or one in 25, tested positive in the final week of June, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The WHO is worried that even as cases rise again, surveillance of the virus and new potential variants is on the decline.

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