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WHO Says Covid Still An International Emergency

WHO chief urges nations to join pandemic treaty to prepare for 'Disease X' threat
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The World Health Organization said Wednesday it is too early to lift the highest-level alert for the Covid crisis, with the pandemic remaining a global health emergency despite recent progress.

The WHO’s emergency committee on Covid-19 met last week and concluded that the pandemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), a status it declared back in January 3020.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Wednesday that he agreed with the committee’s advice.

“The committee emphasised the need to strengthen surveillance and expand access to tests, treatments and vaccines for those most at risk,” he said, speaking from the UN health agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

The WHO first declared the Covid-19 outbreak a PHEIC on January 30, 2020, when, outside of China, fewer than 100 cases and no deaths had been reported.

Though it is the internationally-agreed mechanism for triggering an international response to such outbreaks, it was only in March, when Tedros described the worsening situation as a pandemic, that many countries woke up to the danger.

Since the start of the Covid pandemic, more than 622 million confirmed Covid cases have been reported to WHO and more than 6.5 million deaths, although those numbers are believed to be significant underestimates.

According to WHO’s global dashboard of the situation, 263,000 new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours, while 856 new Covid deaths had been reported in the past week.

Tedros acknowledged Wednesday that “the global situation has obviously improved since the pandemic began,” but he warned that “the virus continues to change and there remain many risks and uncertainties.”

“The pandemic has surprised us before and very well could again,” he warned.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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