(Last Updated on April 13, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned with recent increase in global Covid-19 infections and deaths coming at a time when countries across the world have since begun inoculating their populations against the pandemic, with over 780 million doses of vaccines having been administered to date.
Across the globe, more than 137 million people have contracted the coronavirus while over 2.95 million of them have since succumbed to it since late 2019 when Covid-19 broke out in China and later spread all over the world.
In Zimbabwe, where Covid-19 cases have of late been rising, over 37, 300 citizens have been infected while over 1, 500 of them have since died of Covid-19 complications.
Briefing the media on the pandemic Monday, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said infections and deaths have been increasing as opposed to January and February when they drastically fell.
“We have now seen seven consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths,” bemoaned Ghebreyesus.
“Last week was the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far. Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases. This is despite the fact that more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally. Make no mistake, vaccines are a vital and powerful tool. But they are not the only tool. We say this day after day, week after week. And we will keep saying it.
He said it was not yet time for the world to relax and be complacent, adding Covid-19 prevention measures should be religiously adhered to as they have proven that they are effective.
“Physical distancing works,” said the WHO chief.
“Masks work. Hand hygiene works. Ventilation works. Surveillance, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassionate care – all work to stop infections and save lives. But confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures and their application are driving transmission and costing lives. It takes a consistent, coordinated and comprehensive approach.
Ghebreyesus said many countries around the world had shown that coronavirus could be stopped and contained with proven public health measures and strong systems that respond rapidly and consistently.
“As a result, many of those countries have gained control over Covid-19, and their people are now able to enjoy sporting events, concerts, restaurants and seeing their family and friends safely,” said Ghebreyesus.
“WHO does not want endless lockdowns. The countries that have done best have taken a tailored, measured, agile and evidence-based combination of measures. We too want to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming. But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it is totally avoidable.”
He added that it was unfortunate that in some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and nightclubs were full, markets were open and crowded with few people taking precautions.
“Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they are relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get Covid-19,” he said.
“This disease is not flu. Young, healthy people have died. And we still don’t fully understand the long-term consequences of infection for those who survive. Many people who have suffered even mild disease report long-term symptoms including fatigue, weakness, “brain fog”, dizziness, tremors, insomnia, depression, anxiety, joint pain, chest tightness and more, which are symptoms of long-Covid.”
Zimbabwe has opened up the economy, with children back in schools and businesses allowed to get back to work. With relaxation of Covid – 19 regulations, people are encouraged to maintain social distance, mask up and sanitise their hands.