Covid-19: WHO expects a difficult winter

Even if “a favorable drop in reported deaths worldwide” is currently observed, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the coming autumn and especially winter could be worrying due to the relaxation of sanitary measures and the the possibility of a more transmissible sub-variant. “As colder weather approaches in the northern hemisphere, it is reasonable to expect an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months,” warned at a regular conference of the WHO on Covid, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO.

The organization especially fears an increase in the number of cases with the end of the summer holidays and the reopening of schools. More social interactions were expected to occur in enclosed spaces as temperatures dropped.

© UNICEF/Bunsak Mais

People line up to receive their Covid-19 booster at a hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The scenario of even more transmissible and more dangerous variants

Additionally, “subvariants of Omicron are more transmissible than their predecessors, and the risk of even more transmissible and more dangerous variants remains.” “Meanwhile, vaccination coverage among those most at risk remains too low, especially in low-income countries,” Dr Tedros added.

“But even in high-income countries, 30% of health workers and 20% of the elderly are still unvaccinated,” he insisted. Ultimately, these immunization “gaps” pose a risk to all communities. “So please get vaccinated if you’re not, and get a booster shot if recommended,” Dr Tedros reiterated.

For the head of the WHO, living with the new coronavirus does not mean pretending that the pandemic is over. “If you’re going to walk in the rain without an umbrella, pretending it’s not raining doesn’t help. You will still get wet. Likewise, pretending that a deadly virus is not circulating is a huge risk, ”said the head of the UN agency.

Living with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future

A couple in Brooklyn, New York, wearing a mask to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Unsplash/Julian Wan

A couple in Brooklyn, New York, wearing a mask to protect themselves from Covid-19.

The WHO has revived old recipes against disease. “Even if you are vaccinated, there are simple things you can do to reduce your own risk of infection, and to reduce the risk of infecting someone else.”

It’s also about avoiding mistakes if you can. “If you find yourself in a crowded indoor space, wear a mask and open the windows”, he stressed, reminding people to “continue to wash their hands, thus helping everyone to protect themselves”.

More than 599 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed worldwide, including more than 6.4 million deaths. More than 12.4 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered worldwide, according to a tally compiled by WHO on August 24, 2022.

For the WHO, we must expect “perhaps to live with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future”. “But we don’t have to live with monkeypox,” argued Dr Tedros, relevant that WHO can support all countries to end this outbreak and eliminate this virus.

Magnified image of a monkey skin lesion infected with monkeypox virus.


Magnified image of a monkey skin lesion infected with monkeypox virus.

Monkey pox cases on the rise in the Americas

With regard to monkeypox, several countries continue to see the number of infections increase in the Americas, the continent which represents more than half of the cases reported in the world (25,888 cases including 03 deaths), “even if encouraged to see a continued downward trend in Canada.”

Some European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, are seeing a marked slowdown in the epidemic, demonstrating the effectiveness of public health interventions and community engagement in tracking infections and preventing transmission. Europe has 22,363 cases including 02 deaths.

In total, the WHO has identified more than 48,895 cases worldwide, including 15 deaths. “These signs confirm what we have been saying all along: that with the right measures, this is an epidemic that can be stopped. And in areas that don’t have animal-to-human transmission, it’s a virus that can be eliminated,” Dr. Tedros concluded.

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