Foreign Desk Report
GENEVA: Some countries have seen “upticks” in Covid-19 cases as lockdowns ease, and populations must protect themselves from the coronavirus while authorities continue testing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.
The epicentre of the pandemic is currently in countries of Central, South and North America, particularly the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said. “On upticks [in cases], yes we have seen in countries around the world I’m not talking specifically about Europe when the lockdowns ease, when the social distancing measures ease, people sometimes interpret this as ‘OK, it’s over’,” Harris told a UN briefing in Geneva.
“It’s not over. It’s not over until there is no virus anywhere in the world,” she said. Harris, referring to US demonstrations since the killing of George Floyd 10 days ago, said that protesters must take precautions.
“We have certainly seen a lot of passion this week, we’ve seen people who have felt the need to be out and to express their feelings,” she added. “We ask them to remember [to] still protect yourself and others.”
To avoid infection, the WHO advised people to maintain a distance of at least one metre (three feet), frequently wash hands and avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes, Harris said.
WHO welcomes funding commitments made at today’s Global Vaccine Summit, hosted virtually by the UK government. The Summit is Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s third pledging conference and follows the successful Berlin summit in January 2015.
The new pledges will enable Gavi to protect the next generation and reduce disease inequality by reaching an additional 300 million children with vaccines by 2025.“Thanks to vaccines, hundreds of millions of deaths have been prevented. Polio has been pushed to the brink of eradication, and just in the past few years new vaccines have become available for Ebola and malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.“But vaccines only realize their true power when they are deployed to protect the poorest and most vulnerable. The COVID-19 pandemic is unravelling many of the gains we have made, with vaccination campaigns for polio, cholera, measles, diphtheria, and meningitis.”
The bold funding commitments mean that the Gavi Alliance will be better able to maintain immunization in lower-income countries, mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also help strengthen health systems.
The backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder of how much individual health depends on collective health and the critical role that vaccines play in keeping the global population safe and healthy. The Summit also highlighted how important a safe, effective and equitably accessible vaccine will be in controlling COVID-19.
The Global Vaccine Summit marks 20 years since Gavi was founded. Dr Tedros added: “We join Gavi in celebrating the collective success of this great Alliance. These pledges are not just an investment in the Alliance of which we are a very proud partner; they are
an advance on our shared vision of a healthier, safer and fairer world.”