The COVID-19 pandemic is “far from over,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared at a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
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“When the virus breaks out, we have to push it back,” said Dr. Tedros, adding, “The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.”
“As hospitalizations and transmission of COVID-19 increase, governments must implement tried and tested measures such as mask wearing, improved ventilation and testing and treatment protocols,” he said.
The number of Covid cases worldwide has increased by 30% in the past two weeks – fueled mainly by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, WHO Chief Emergencies Officer Dr Michael Ryan said at a press conference.
As of July 11, the WHO has identified more than 552.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 232.3 million in Europe, with more than 6.3 million deaths since the pandemic began.
According to Our World in data, as of the same date, 61.3% of the world’s population had completed the vaccination schedule, while 66.8% had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Dr. Ryan suggested a reduction in screenings and lifting of health and social distancing measures that complicate monitoring the pandemic.
“As the virus continues to spread freely and hospitalizations for severe cases and a growing number of people in a post-Covid state, often called the Covid Long, states are not effectively distributing the disease burden according to their capacities,” Dr Tedros added.
The two WHO leaders spoke as WHO released the results of the latest COVID-19 emergency committee meeting last Friday.
Following the committee’s unanimous decision, the UN agency declared the management of the COVID-19 pandemic at the rank of “public health emergency of international concern”, the organization’s highest level of alert.
The committee pointed to the decline in screening and genomic sequencing, which makes assessing the impact of COVID-19 variants “increasingly difficult” and underscores the “inadequacy of current surveillance” of the pandemic.
The committee specifically noted the lack of implementation of adequate public health measures in affected areas due to resurgence of cases.
The European branch of the health organization, on Tuesday, recommended a second booster dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 for vulnerable people, although the continent has recorded almost 7 million cases in the last 7 days.