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WHO Warns Against Letting Guard Down on COVID-19 


People wearing face masks walk through Wan Chai during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Hong Kong, China, Apr. 14, 2022.

Latest reports put the global number of COVID-19 cases at 502 million, including 6.19 million deaths. The World Health Organization says that is the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths recorded since the early days of the pandemic more than two years ago.

However, the good news is tempered by reports of serious spikes in cases and increased hospitalizations in some countries. The WHO acknowledges growing fatigue among communities and the desire to resume a more normal life.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns this is no time for people to let down their guard. He notes the COVID-19 Emergency Committee unanimously agreed this week that the pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern.

“WHO scientists continue to work with thousands of experts around the world to track and monitor the SARS-CoV-2 virus. …This virus has over time become more transmissible and it remains deadly, especially for the unprotected and unvaccinated that do not have access to health care and antivirals,” he said.

FILE - WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addresses the special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, in this handout picture made available by the World Health Organization on Nov. 29, 2021.
FILE - WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addresses the special session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, in this handout picture made available by the World Health Organization on Nov. 29, 2021.

Tedros says it has become more difficult to monitor the trajectory of the coronavirus because testing has dropped significantly. He adds testing and contact tracing help stop the spread of the virus and says it will be harder to save lives without those tools.

“Diagnosing at-risk patients early enough for new antivirals to be effective is essential and should be available to everyone, everywhere. In addition, higher testing and sequencing rates will be vital for tracing existing and identifying new variants as they emerge,” he said.

Tedros says the best protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted when recommended. He also urges continued mask wearing, especially in crowded indoor spaces.

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