WHO chief: COVID-19 'a long way from over'

The COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over, but it can be brought under control in months with proven public health measures, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on April 12.
April 13, 2021 | 08:01
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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Reuters

So far some 780 million vaccines have been administered globally, but measures including wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing must be applied to reverse the trajectory.

We too want to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming,” Tedros was cited by Reuters as saying.

But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it’s totally avoidable.”

The COVID19 pandemic is a long way from over. But we have many reasons for optimism. The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped,” he added.

Transmission was being driven by “confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures.”

India has overtaken Brazil to become the nation with the second highest number of infections worldwide after the United States, as it battles a massive second wave, having given about 105 million vaccine doses among a population of 1.4 billion.

We are at a critical point in the pandemic now, the trajectory of this pandemic is growing for the 7th week in a row,” said the WHO team leader on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove.

Noting that there had been a 9 percent rise in cases last week, the seventh consecutive week of increases, and a 5 percent rise in deaths, she added: “If you look at the epi (epidemic) curve and the trajectory of the pandemic right now, it is growing exponentially”.

Tedros said that in some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and nightclubs were full and markets were open and crowded with few people taking precautions.

Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they’re relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get COVID-19,” he said.

Cases rising in Asia

A health worker takes sample from a man for COVID-19 test, as coronavirus cases surge across the country. (Photo | PTI)
A health worker takes sample from a man for COVID-19 test, as coronavirus cases surge across the country. Photo: PTI

India has the second largest number of coronavirus cases in the world, and its infection numbers are rising again, BBC said.

India’s neighbouring countries are also seeing cases rising, as they attempt to ramp up vaccination programmes which only started in the last couple of months.

Meanwhile, Thailand on April 12 reported 985 new cases of COVID-19, the biggest daily jump since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The nation has reported a total of 33,610 coronavirus cases, while deaths remained at 97.

Sophon Iamsirithaworn, Deputy Director-General of the Disease Control Department, said most new transmissions were related to the pub clusters that then spilled to other provinces across Thailand.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health on April 12 also reported 277 new cases of COVID-19, mostly in the capital of Phnom Penh with 204 cases.

The new infections raised the country’s total cases associated with the “February 20 COVID-19 Community Event” to 3,982 and the accumulative infections recorded since the pandemic broke out in Cambodia to 4,515.

Kim Santepheap, Secretary of State and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice, confirmed that those with COVID-19 who evades medical treatment or attempts to do so is liable to be sentenced to imprisonment for between 1-5 years.

The Cambodian government on April 11 issued an 8-article ordinance on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for government officials and armed force members, VNA said.

Tracking coronavirus vaccinations

Photo: AFP
Less wealthy countries are relying on a vaccine-sharing arrangement called Covax, which aims to provide two billion doses by the end of the year. Photo: AFP

The New York Times said while vaccine doses remain relatively scarce globally, most countries have focused their early vaccination efforts on priority groups like the clinically vulnerable; people in their 60s, 70s and older; and front-line workers, like doctors and nurses.

Israel is vaccinating its population faster than any other country, with 115 doses administered for every 100 people.

There is also a striking divide between continents. Africa has the slowest vaccination rate of any continent, with many countries yet to start mass vaccination campaigns.

Less wealthy countries are relying on a vaccine-sharing arrangement called Covax, which aims to provide two billion doses by the end of the year.

83 percent of shots that have gone into arms worldwide have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Only 0.2 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.

Most of the vaccines currently in use require two doses for a patient to be fully vaccinated. In February the Food and Drug Administration authorized a one-shot vaccine by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for emergency use in the United States./.

Vietnam reported nine imported cases of COVID-19 in the past 12 hours to 6pm April 12, raising the national count to 2,705, according to the Health Ministry.

The ministry said 16 patients were given the all-clear from coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 on the day, bringing the total recoveries to 2,445.

Among patients still under treatment, 16 have tested negative for the virus once, 18 twice and 18 thrice.

As many as 36,938 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit regions are currently quarantined across the nation.

To live safely with the pandemic, the Ministry of Health advised people to remain proactive in pandemic prevention and control by continuing to wear face masks when going out, disinfecting frequently, maintaining a safe distance, refraining from mass gatherings, and making medical declarations.

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