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WHO chief says end of Covid pandemic 'is in sight'

| Updated: September 15, 2022 16:55:12


Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks following his re-election during the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on May 24, 2022 — Reuters/Files Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks following his re-election during the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on May 24, 2022 — Reuters/Files

The world has never been in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, his most optimistic outlook yet on the years-long health crisis which has killed over six million people, reports Reuters.

"We are not there yet. But the end is in sight," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference.

That was the most upbeat assessment from the UN agency since it declared an international emergency in January 2020 and started describing Covid-19 as a pandemic three months later.

The virus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million, roiling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems.

The rollout of vaccines and therapies have helped to stem deaths and hospitalisations, and the Omicron variant which emerged late last year causes less severe disease. Deaths from Covid-19 last week were the lowest since March 2020, the UN agency reported.

Still on Wednesday, he again urged nations to maintain their vigilance and likened the pandemic to a marathon race.

"Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work."

Countries need to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for Covid-19 and future viruses, Tedros said. He also urged nations to vaccinate 100 per cent of their high-risk groups and keep testing for the virus.

The WHO said countries need to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment and healthcare workers.

"We expect there to be future waves of infections, potentially at different time points throughout the world caused by different subvariants of Omicron or even different variants of concern," said WHO's senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

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