WHO maintains Covid-19 pandemic as an international public health emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this Tuesday that it has decided to maintain the Covid-19 pandemic as a public health emergency of international concern, following the recommendation made by its Emergency Committee.

“The Covid-19 Emergency Committee met on Friday and concluded that the virus remains a public health emergency of international concern,” the WHO director-general told a news conference in Geneva.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed “concern” about the recent increase in the number of cases of infection, which is putting pressure on health systems and professionals in this area.

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, or the WHO Emergency Committee for the Outgoing Pandemic, that the subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus “continue to be responsible for waves of cases, hospitalizations and deaths throughout the world”.

In addition, surveillance has been “significantly reduced” in many countries, including testing and sequencing of the coronavirus that causes covid-19, making it “increasingly difficult to determine the impact of variants on transmission and the effectiveness of countermeasures,” warned the WHO official.

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, there is still a “huge disconnect in the perception of Covid-19″ between the scientific community, political leaders and the general public”, which constitutes a challenge to “build trust in the community” in the measures public health, such as the use of a mask, distancing and ventilation of interior spaces.

“New waves of the virus are proving once again that Covid-19 is not near its end. Whenever the virus presses us, we must resist and press against it. We are in a more favorable position now than at the beginning of the pandemic. We have come a long way”, underlined the WHO director general, calling on governments to focus on booster vaccination so that it is possible to achieve the goal of having 70% of the world population immunized against SARS-CoV-2.

Finally, Tedros also recalled that there are already safe prevention measures that prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, but these advances cannot be taken for granted.

“When transmission and hospitalizations increase, governments must use tried-and-true methods, such as intensifying mask wearing, improving space ventilation, and enforcing testing and treatment protocols. I urge governments to regularly adapt testing protocols. response to the COVID -19 pandemic, based on the most recent epidemiology and the appearance of new variants,” he added.

According to data from the organization, Covid-19 cases reported to the WHO have increased by 30% in the last two weeks, largely driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the Ómicron variant, but also for the lifting of sanitary measures that had been adopted to contain the transmission of the virus.

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According to the WHO, the Emergency Committee unanimously agreed that the pandemic still meets the criteria of an extraordinary event that continues to negatively affect the health of the world population and that the international spread of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 could present a even bigger problem. greater impact on health.

The experts of this committee admitted that the continuous evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, although inherent to all viruses, continues in an unpredictable way.

The Covid-19 Emergency Committee held its first meeting on January 22 and 23, 2020, and days later, the WHO Director General declared that the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak constituted a public health emergency of interest. International (PHEIC).

This committee, convened by the WHO Director-General, is responsible for recommending whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency, proposing temporary measures to prevent and reduce the spread of a disease, and managing the global public health response, if necessary. .

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The PHEIC is declared on the basis of an “extraordinary, serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected event” with public health implications beyond the national borders of the affected State and that may require immediate international action.

Source: TSF