Shomporko Desk:-GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The World Health Organization on Saturday cautioned the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to assess the crisis a half year subsequent to sounding the worldwide alert.
The committee “featured the foreseen protracted term of this COVID-19 pandemic”, the WHO said in an announcement, and cautioned of the danger of “response fatigue” given the socio-economic pressures on countries.
The panel gathered Friday for the fourth time over the coronavirus emergency, half a year on from its Jan. 30 declarations of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) — the WHO’s highest level of alarm.
“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” it said following the meeting.
Unsurprisingly, the panel, comprising 17 members and 12 advisers, unanimously agreed that the pandemic still constituted a PHEIC.
Several countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns in a bid to control the spread of the respiratory disease, plunging economies into a sharp contraction.
The committee urged the WHO to provide nuanced, pragmatic guidance on COVID-19 management “to reduce the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures”.
The panel urged the WHO to support countries in preparing for the rollout of proven therapeutics and vaccines.
The committee also urged the agency to accelerate research into the remaining “critical unknowns” of the virus, such as the animal source of the disease and potential animal reservoirs.
The committee will reconvene within the next three months.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic’s effects would be long-lasting.
“It’s sobering to think that six months ago when you recommended I declare a PHEIC, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China,” he said Friday.
“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come.”
The committee warned countries to prepare their health systems to cope with seasonal influenza and other disease outbreaks alongside the new coronavirus.
They were also urged to “encourage global solidarity” on COVID-19 and address “mis/disinformation” about the virus.
The WHO has been sharply criticized for the length of time it took to declare an international emergency.
The United States, which accused it of being too close to China, officially began its withdrawal from the organization in July.
The agency has also been criticized for recommendations deemed to be late or contradictory, in particular on wearing masks, or the modes of transmission of the virus.
Photo credit: PIERRE ALBOUY / AFP
News source: AFP