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Business News/ News / India/  Covid-19 has 'Surprised us before and very well may again': WHO chief
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Covid-19 has 'Surprised us before and very well may again': WHO chief

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic has, ‘surprised us before and very well may again’

Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a speech during the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe on September 12, 2022 in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (AFP)Premium
Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a speech during the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe on September 12, 2022 in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (AFP)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the Covid-19 pandemic continued to remain a global emergency and being complacent can only be detrimental.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic has, "surprised us before and very well may again".

The UN agency has said in recent months that while cases are falling in parts of the world, countries still need to maintain their vigilance and push to get their most vulnerable populations vaccinated.

"Although the public perception is that the pandemic is over in some parts of the world, it remains a public health event that continues to adversely and strongly affect the health of the world's population," the WHO's committee said.

It noted that even though the number of weekly deaths is the lowest since the pandemic began, they remain high compared to other viruses.

WHO's warning has come amid the entry of new sub-variants which have become dominating in some parts of the US. India's Maharashtra has also reported one case of each of the two sub-variants of omicron recently.

Top American physician-scientist and immunologist, Dr Anthony Fauci has already sounded alarmed about BQ.1 and BQ.1.1--two descendants of omicron’s BA.5 subvariant. In the latest interview, Fauci said both have dangerous “qualities or characteristics that could evade some of the interventions we have".

Fauci said one should not declare victory from Covid-19 "too prematurely" and added, "And that’s the reason why we’ve got to keep our eye out on these emerging variants".

Consequently, WHO's committee highlighted five priority areas to end the Covid-19 emergency. The global health body has suggested tracking different variants of coronavirus, surging medical capacity to treat patients, vaccination, ensuring access to affordable therapeutics, and a robust global pandemic preparedness architecture.

“Although the public perception is that the pandemic is over in some parts of the world, it remains a public health event that continues to adversely and strongly affect the health of the world's population," WHO warned.

Maharashtra has reported cases from other sub-variants of Omicron- BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 variant, which was detected for the first time in India on Monday from the sample of a patient in Pune.

XBB, a recombinant lineage between two Omicron sublineages BJ.1 and BA.2.75, is a fast-spreading variant, which was seen to have caused a spike across Singapore recently. As per the Maharashtra Health Department report, the XBB has a growth advantage over BA.2.75 and evasive immune properties.

According to statistics the new COVID cases are expected to increase in the state in the October 10-16 period this week by 17.7% as compared to the period between October 3-9. This rise is noticed in Thane, Raigad, and Mumbai, Maharashtra's health department said.

Some experts from the health department predicted a rise in the coming winter season, especially in a festive environment.

Further, some experts suggested that people with comorbidities need to take extra precautions while visiting public places. People suffering from Influenza-like illnesses should avoid public contact as much as possible.  Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre found BF.7 variant, an 'Omicron spawn' in the state that was first detected in China and now reached the United States, the UK, Australia, and Belgium.

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Published: 21 Oct 2022, 10:23 AM IST
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