‘The end for Covid is in sight’ says WHO boss – but that makes now ‘the worst time’ to stop battling the disease

  • Covid deaths recorded worldwide hits its lowest figure since pandemic began
  • Executives at the World Health Organisation have said that ‘the end is in sight’
  • One boss warned ‘hard work’ is needed to make sure ‘we cross the finish line’

The world has never been in a better position to stop Covid-19 but this means it is ‘worst time’ to give up the fight, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adha Ghebreyesus said the number of coronavirus deaths last week was at its lowest since the pandemic since March 2020.

The low number of deaths could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak but he warned that ‘hard work’ is needed now to stop the spread.

‘We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,’ he said, comparing the effort to that made by a marathon runner nearing the finish line. 

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adha Ghebreyesus (pictured) said the number of coronavirus deaths last week was at its lowest since the pandemic since March 2020

He added: ‘Now is the worst time to stop running. Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap all the rewards of our hard work.’

In its weekly report on the pandemic, the U.N. health agency said deaths fell by 22 per cent in the past week, at just over 11,000 reported worldwide. 

There were 3.1 million new cases, a drop of 28 per cent, continuing a weeks-long decline in the disease in every part of the world. 

The WHO, however, did add that relaxed Covid testing and lack of surveillance in many countries may mean that cases are going unnoticed. 

In order to reduce the risk of another wave this winter, the health agency has set out policy briefs for governments warning that new variants could undo the progress made so far.

Mr Ghebreyesus added: ‘If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty.’

The World Health Organization boss has said the world has never been in a better position to stop Covid-19 but this means it is ‘worst time’ to give up the fight

The WHO has reported that the omicron subvariant BA.5 dominates globally and makes up almost 90 per cent of virus samples shared on the world’s largest public database.

In the last month, regulatory authorities in Europe, including in England, and the U.S. have tweaked vaccines so that they target the original coronavirus but also new, emerging variants, such as the BA.5. 

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said the organization expected future waves of the disease, but was hopeful those would not cause many deaths.

Meanwhile in China, residents of a city in the country’s far western Xinjiang region have said they are experiencing hunger, forced quarantines and dwindling supplies of medicine and daily necessities after more than 40 days in a lockdown prompted by COVID-19.

Hundreds of posts from Ghulja riveted users of Chinese social media last week, with residents sharing videos of empty refrigerators, feverish children and people shouting from their windows.

Workers spray disinfectant over colleagues in front of a residential area under a Covid-19 lockdown in the Huangpu district of Shanghai in June earlier this year

On Monday, local police announced the arrests of six people for ‘spreading rumors’ about the lockdown, including posts about a dead child and an alleged suicide, which they said ‘incited opposition’ and ‘disrupted social order’.

Leaked directives from government offices show that workers are being ordered to avoid negative information and spread ‘positive energy’ instead. 

One directed state media to film ‘smiling seniors’ and ‘children having fun’ in neighborhoods emerging from the lockdown.

The government has ordered mass testing and district lockdowns in cities across China in recent weeks, from Sanya on tropical Hainan island to southwest Chengdu, to the northern port city of Dalian.

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