WHO: Covid-19 pandemic is still ‘an extraordinary event’

ANKARA – The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees the Covid-19 pandemic still constitutes “an extraordinary event” following the 10th meeting of its Emergency Committee.

In a statement, WHO noted that the virus “continues to adversely affect the health of populations around the world, poses a risk of international spread and interference with international traffic, and requires a coordinated international response.”

Listing temporary recommendations to nations, WHO advised countries to continue using “evidence-informed public health and social measures, therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines” to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

While advising to “take a risk-based approach to mass gathering events by evaluating, mitigating and communicating risks,” the WHO once again called on states to “have at least 70% of their  populations vaccinated by the start of July 2022.”

Noting the enhancement of Covid-19 surveillance as one of the critical actions to take, the statement said countries “should strengthen systems to collect and publicly share indicators to monitor the burden of Covid-19, such as hospitalization rates, severe disease, and excess mortality.”

It further urged countries to ensure that there is “sufficient surge capacity for critical SARS-CoV-2 clinical care and post Covid-19 condition.”

“States should enhance access to health for all by strengthening health and social systems to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, especially on children,” the statement added. With the surge in reports of Omicron variant cases, many countries initially applied bans to several African states.

In that context, the WHO called on states to “lift or ease international traffic bans, since the failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of the Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.”

On vaccination against Covid-19, the WHO urged states to “recognize all vaccines that have received WHO Emergency Use Listing and all heterologous vaccine combinations” as per Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recommendations.

It also advised states to “conduct epidemiological investigations of SARS-CoV-2 transmission at the human-animal interface and targeted surveillance on potential animal hosts and reservoirs.” (Anadolu)