‘COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over’: WHO chief warns nations loosening guard

Confusion and complacency in addressing COVID-19 mean the pandemic is a long way from over, but it can be brought under control in months with proven public health measures, the head of the World Health Organization has said.

“We, too, want to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday.

“But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it’s totally avoidable.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over. But we have many reasons for optimism. The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped,” he added, saying transmission was being driven by “confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures.”

The WHO team leader on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, told the news briefing the pandemic was growing exponentially, with a nine percent increase in cases last week, the seventh consecutive week of increases, and a five percent rise in deaths.

Tedros said that in some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and nightclubs were full and markets were open and crowded with few people taking precautions.

“Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they’re relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get COVID-19,” he said.