The number of deaths from Covid-19 globally has plunged to its lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, raising hopes that an end may be in sight.
The finish line of the pandemic is in sight, according to the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who announced on Wednesday the latest global Covid-19 figures that have brought a glimmer of hope.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic," he said during a weekly press conference.
Although a slight increase in the number of new infections is being recorded in Belgium, hospitalisations and deaths as a result of the virus remain stable at a low level. Despite this welcome news, Ghebreyesus stressed that the world is “not there yet."
“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we. We can see the finish line. We’re in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running," he warned.
Key actions to be taken
According to the WHO, risks will persist on the emergence of more variants which could cause another increase in worldwide deaths, bringing disruption and uncertainty, if countries do not act now to battle until the end.
The WHO is releasing six short policy briefs that outline the key actions that all governments must take now to “finish the race."
The policy briefs are a summary, based on the evidence and experience of the last 32 months (since the start of the outbreak), outlining "what works best to save lives, protect health systems, and avoid social and economic disruption."
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With these briefs, the WHO is calling on governments to take "a hard look" at their policies and strengthen them for future pathogens with pandemic potential. They include recommendations on vaccination for the most at-risk groups, continued testing and integration of effective treatments.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said the virus is still “intensely circulating” around the world and that the agency believes that case numbers being reported are an underestimate, but that the new waves of infection expected do not need to translate into “waves of deaths” because there are now effective tools such as vaccines and anti-virals.