SWITZERLAND – The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported to it from around the world has dropped for the third week in a row.

However, WHO experts have cautioned that this drop should be interpreted with caution because many countries have changed their testing strategies, resulting in the dentification of fewer cases.

Countries such as India have also relaxed public health and social policies in response to COVID-19. The WHO’s Covid emergency committee unanimously confirmed on April 13 that the virus remains a major public health threat and that countries must not relax their guard.

Every region reported a decrease in the number of new weekly cases and deaths. Over 496 million confirmed cases and over 6 million deaths had been reported globally as of 10 April 2022.

These trends should be interpreted with caution, as several countries are gradually changing their COVID-19 testing strategies, resulting in fewer overall tests performed and, as a result, fewer cases detected.

The WHO experts emphasized that the world is still in the middle of the pandemic and that it is far from over. Didier Houssin, Chair of WHO’s Covid emergency committee, stated, “Pandemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern- the highest level of alert that the WHO can sound.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down – on the contrary, and this is an extremely strong recommendation.

“The situation is far from over with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, the circulation of the virus is still very active, mortality remains high and the virus is evolving in an unpredictable way.

“Now is not the time for relaxation on this virus, nor weakness in surveillance, testing and reporting, nor laxity in public and social health measures and no resignation when it comes to vaccination.”

Covid-19 vaccination is still key

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, has urged people to get vaccinated, continue wearing masks, particularly in crowded indoor spaces, and ensure adequate indoor ventilation. He stated,

This virus has become more transmissible over time, and it remains deadly, particularly for the unprotected and unvaccinated who lack access to health care and antivirals. It is an important tool for lowering morbidity and mortality.

WHO’s recommendations on tackling COVID-19

WHO’s expert committee has said that the following actions are critical for all countries:

  • Achieve national COVID-19 vaccination targets in line with global WHO recommendations of at least 70 per cent of all countries’ populations vaccinated by the start of July 2022.
  • Countries should scale up their public health and social measures to fight the pandemic rapidly in response to changes in the virus and the population immunity.
  • Take a risk-based approach to mass gathering events by evaluating, mitigating, and communicating risks. Recognizing that there are different drivers and risk tolerance for mass gatherings, it is critical to consider the epidemiological context (including the prevalence of variants of concern and the intensity of transmission), surveillance, contact tracing and testing capacity, as well as adherence to public health and social measures when conducting this risk assessment and planning events.
  • Countries should collect and publicly share indicators to monitor the burden of COVID-19 such as new hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units, and deaths.
  • Countries should enhance access to health, including through the restoration of health services at all levels and strengthening of social systems to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, especially on children and young.

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