Coronavirus pandemic ‘far from over’, says global health chief

‘Intensive care units ... are overflowing and people are dying – and it’s totally avoidable’

India  is struggling with a second wave, having given some 105m vaccine doses among a population of 1.4bn. Photograph: EPA

India is struggling with a second wave, having given some 105m vaccine doses among a population of 1.4bn. Photograph: EPA

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Confusion and complacency in addressing Covid-19 means the pandemic is a long way from over, but it can be brought under control in months with proven public health measures, World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

“We too want to see societies and economies reopening and travel and trade resuming,” he said.

“But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it’s totally avoidable.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a long way from over, but we have many reasons for optimism. The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped,” he added.

He said the transmission was being driven by “confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures”.

India has overtaken Brazil to become the nation with the second highest number of infections worldwide after the United States. It is struggling with a massive second wave, having given about 105 million vaccine doses among a population of 1.4 billion.

WHO team leader on Covid-19 Maria van Kerkove said the pandemic is growing exponentially, with a 9 per cent increase in cases last week, the seventh consecutive week of increases, and a 5 per cent rise in deaths.

Dr Tedros said that in some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and nightclubs were full and markets open. Moreover, they were crowded with few people taking precautions.

“Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they’re relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get Covid-19,” he said. – Reuters