•   Wednesday, 31 May, 2023
Rising Covid 19 cases highlight volatility of this virus: WHO warns pandemic not over

Rising Covid-19 cases highlight volatility of this virus: WHO warns pandemic not over

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday (May 10, 2022) warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is "not over" and said that the rise in cases in more than 50 countries highlights the "volatility of this virus". 

Speaking at the WHO press conference on the Covid-19 situation, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that sub-variants of coronavirus are driving a major surge in cases. 

Omicron, specifically BA.4 and BA.5, is driving the upsurge in South Africa, while BA.2 is dominant worldwide, he said.

"For the moment at least, hospitalisations and deaths are not rising as quickly as in previous waves," the WHO chief said.

The relatively high population immunity from vaccination and previous waves is keeping Covid-19 hospitalization and deaths rates at a comparably low level compared to previous waves, Ghebreyesus said.

"But this is not guaranteed for places where vaccination coverage is low," he warned.

Worst-case scenarios 

The WHO Director-General noted that the worst-case scenarios for Covid-19 include a variant that evades current immunity, transmits more easily and/or causes greater mortality. 

"South African scientists have urged further vaccination as the key to mitigating the next wave of Covid-19. We agree and WHO continues to advocate that all countries should work toward 70 per cent vaccination starting with vaccinating and boosting the most vulnerable," Ghebreyesus said.

"This pandemic is not over and we need all leaders to step up to boost population immunity and work collectively to get tests, treatments, and vaccines to last mile populations," he added.

Vaccination best way to save lives

During the media briefing on Covid-19, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that vaccination is the best way to save lives and protect communities and health systems. He also stated that vaccination is the best way to minimise cases of post-Covid-19 condition or 'long Covid'.

Post Covid-19 condition, also known as 'long Covid', refers collectively to the constellation of long-term symptoms that some people experience after they have had Covid-19. 

While most people who contract the virus fully recover, some people develop a variety of mid- and long-term effects like fatigue, breathlessness and cognitive dysfunction (for example, confusion, forgetfulness, or a lack of mental focus and clarity). Some people also experience psychological effects as part of the post-Covid-19 condition.

"Long Covid is devastating and debilitating for individuals – both young and old – communities and economies," Ghebreyesus said.

Governments need to take it seriously and provide integrated care, psychosocial support, and sick leave for those patients that are suffering from it, he said.

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