Covid pandemic not yet over: WHO official

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Manila, Oct 21 (IANS) A World Health Organization (WHO) official on Friday warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over, adding that the continued emergence of sub-variants “poses a risk of resurgence and overwhelming health systems.”

Addressing reporters here, Babatunde Olowokure, director of Health Security and Emergencies for WHO in the Western Pacific, said Singapore and New Zealand are experiencing a resurgence of new cases, while the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Vietnam have shown a sustained decline of cases, hospitalisation, and deaths since August, reports Xinhua news agnecy.

Olowokure said that the circulation of the Omicron XBB subvariant is fuelling the surge in Singapore, while the BA.5 is still the dominant variant in New Zealand.

“Singapore reimposed public health safety measures such as limiting visitors in hospitals and residential care homes,” he said.

WHO data showed that the Western Pacific Region tallied over 92 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, including more than 270,000 deaths since the highly infectious and fatal disease emerged in 2020.

Olowokure said the decline of cases in several countries is due to “relatively high vaccine coverage”, but he urged people to remain vigilant despite the decline in reported cases regionally and globally, adding that the coronavirus continues to circulate in the region.



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