Sunday, December 4, 2022

Reduced testing, surveillance of Covid concerning: WHO

Even as Covid cases are decreasing and several countries lifting restrictions, testing and surveillance of the virus is also on the decline, which is a major cause of concern, said a World Health Organisation official.
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said that monitoring the virus remains critical, the Washington Post reported.
“We need to be strategic about this, but we cannot abandon it,” Van Kerkhove said during an online question-and-answer session.
“And what we do not want to see is the dismantling of these surveillance systems that have been put in place for Covid-19,” she added.
Although global infections have fallen about 20 per cent this week compared with last week, she said the decline “may not be real” , because of the reduction in testing.
Van Kerkhove had the same caveat about deaths. About 68,000 deaths were reported last week due to Covid, representing a slight decline, but WHO officials have questions about some of the reporting.
Many European countries, including the UK, have lifted Covid restrictions as the Omicron wave is subsiding. But, the global health agency expects more variants to arise as the virus continues circulating, though they do not know whether future variants will be more or less severe or transmissible. For that reason, testing remains important, the report said.
However, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that Covid might end this year. “At least we will get over the health impacts of coronavirus,” she said. Yet, Van Kerkhove said: “Now is not the time to just drop everything. We need to be very careful about what is being done, because we have to limit the spread.”

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