By Chinenye Festus:-
Several countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns in a bid to control the spread of the respiratory disease, plunging economies into sharp contraction.
In view of this, the World Health Organization on Saturday warned the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.
The committee urged the WHO to provide nuanced, pragmatic guidance on COVID-19 reactions “to reduce the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures”.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 680,000 people and infected at least 17.6 million since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.
Unsurprisingly, the panel, comprising 18 members and 12 advisers, unanimously agreed that the pandemic still constituted a PHEIC. “The committee highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.”
Going into the meeting, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic’s effects would be long-lasting.
“It’s sobering to think that six months ago when you recommended I declare a PHEIC, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China,” he said Friday.
“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come.”
The WHO has been sharply criticized for the length of time it took to declare an international emergency.
The United States, which accused the organization of being too close to China, officially began its withdrawal from the organization in July.
The agency has also been criticized for recommendations deemed late or contradictory, in particular on wearing masks, or the modes of transmission of the virus.
“Many scientific questions have been resolved; many remain to be answered,” Tedros said Friday.
“Most of the world’s people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks.” AFP