WHO says Covid-19 remains a global health emergency, but pandemic is at a ‘transition point’


Covid-19 remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said on Monday, but it acknowledged that the pandemic is in a “transition phase”.

The World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee discussed the pandemic at its 14th meeting on Covid-19 on Friday, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreeing to continue the Declaration of International Concern, or PHEIC.

In a statement released on Monday, WHO’s advisory panel urged the WHO to propose “alternative mechanisms to sustain global and national attention on COVID-19 after the termination of PHEIC”.

“Achieving high levels of population immunity globally through infection and/or vaccination may limit the morbidity and mortality of SARS-CoV-2, but there is little doubt that this virus will remain a persistently established pathogen in humans and animals. In the future. As such, long-term public health action is critical,” the committee said in a statement Monday. “Although eliminating this virus from human and animal reservoirs is unlikely, mitigating its devastating impact on morbidity and mortality is achievable and should remain a priority goal.”

In a list of provisional recommendations, Tedros said countries should continue vaccinating people and include Covid-19 vaccines in routine care; improve disease surveillance; maintain a strong health care system to avoid “a panic-neglect cycle”; Continue to fight misinformation; Adjust international travel procedures based on risk assessment.

The organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a PHEIC in January 2020, nearly six weeks before it was characterized as a pandemic.

A PHEIC forms an agreement between countries to adhere to WHO recommendations for emergency management. Each country declares its own public health emergency – declarations that carry legal weight. Countries use them to marshal resources and circumvent laws to ease the crisis.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is under his own public health emergency declaration, updated on January 11.

More than 170,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the past eight weeks, and Tedros, who announced the committee meeting last week, said that while the world is better equipped to manage the pandemic than it was three years ago, he remains “very”. The situation in many countries and the increasing number of deaths are worrying.

While global Covid-19 deaths are trending upward, the seven-day average is far lower than earlier points in the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Last week, ahead of the committee meeting, Tedros urged countries not to give up the fight against Covid-19.

“My message is clear: do not underestimate this virus,” he said. “It surprises us, and will continue to do so, and it will continue to kill unless we do more to get health equipment to people who need it and comprehensively tackle misinformation.”

On Monday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released two new reports warning that “all countries are dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks.”

IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said the Covid-19 pandemic should be “a wake-up call”.

“The next pandemic may be just around the corner; If the experience of COVID-19 doesn’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?,” he said in a news release.

Much of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on countries such as unemployment and poverty, learning loss, food insecurity and increased mental health problems could have been avoided if governments invested in emergency preparedness, reports say. They recommend that countries prepare for simultaneous hazards such as disease outbreaks and extreme weather events.

“We need to start preparing now because our world is becoming more dangerous,” said IFRC’s World Disasters Report 2022, noting that climate change is driving many disasters. “In 2021, 378 disasters were recorded – including disease outbreaks – which is higher than the 20-year average of 337 disasters per year. Many countries had to respond to disasters such as cyclones and floods while dealing with COVID-19.

The report calls for “action at the societal level” to prepare for disasters on the front lines and address existing economic and racial disparities so that when disasters do occur they are not exacerbated.

The IFRC’s Everyone Counts report 2023 emphasizes “local resilience” by building and investing in the “public health, sanitation, housing and economic security” of communities.

Ultimately, the report says, “No one is safe until everyone is safe. The pandemic is not over and there is no response. ”


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