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Covid-19 still a ‘public health emergency of international concern’: WHO

A WHO emergency committee meeting agreed that Covid-19 remains a 'dangerous infectious disease with the capacity to cause substantial damage to health and health systems'.

dr-tedrosWHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Reuters/File)
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that Covid-19 continues to remain a “public health emergency of international concern”, following an emergency committee meeting of the world health body.

The committee informed the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the Covid-19 pandemic is “probably at a transition point” and advised to “navigate this transition carefully and mitigate the potential negative consequences”. It further agreed that Covid-19 remains a “dangerous infectious disease with the capacity to cause substantial damage to health and health systems”.

Concern was expressed by the UN health body about the high number of deaths due to Covid-19 as compared to other respiratory diseases, insufficient vaccine uptake in low and middle-income countries and in the highest-risk groups, and the uncertainty associated with emerging variants.

“They recognised that pandemic fatigue and reduced public perception of risk have led to drastically reduced use of public health and social measures, such as masks and social distancing. Vaccine hesitancy and the continuing spread of misinformation continue to be extra hurdles to the implementation of crucial public health interventions,” minutes of the meeting read.

The WHO’s announcement comes days after the body said it is holding discussions on lowering the level of alert about the coronavirus. “Public health emergency of international concern” is the highest level of alert defined by the organisation.

Over 1,70,000 Covid-related deaths were reported globally in the last eight weeks. India too broke its two-day-long below-100-cases streak as it reported 109 new Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours ending Monday morning. While India’s active cases stand at 1,842, one death in the last 24 hours has taken the toll so far to 5,30,740.

Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech launched its intranasal vaccine Incovacc in the presence of Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Union Science Minister Jitendra Singh on Republic Day (January 26). The vaccine is to be used as a third booster dose for those who have already taken two doses of Covaxin or Covishield. It will cost Rs 325 for the Central government and states placing large orders, and Rs 800 for private players

First published on: 30-01-2023 at 17:13 IST
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