[size=47]COVID cases are falling globally but 'it's not over for anybody,' WHO official cautions[/size]
2 days ago
Calgary not-for-profit going bananas trying to off-load pallets of fruit
Canada's top newspaper group gambles on casino app to help fund its…
:copyright: Provided by National Post Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's emergencies program, speaks at a news conference on the novel coronavirus in February 2020.
In Texas, state leaders are contemplating lifting the state-wide masking order.
In cities across Latin America, they’re pleading for oxygen tanks to keep people from suffocating from COVID.
The global picture of COVID is complicated.
While the number of confirmed infections have dropped globally — from more than five million cases a week in January, to 2.5 million in mid-February, the Financial Times reports
— not all countries are on a downward slope, Dr. Mike Ryan, director general of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program said Friday.
Brazil is having some of its worst moments yet. The country, whose far-right populist president has downplayed the “little flu,” surpassed a quarter million-related deaths this week, the world’s second-highest death toll, behind the United States. In India, infections are surging in five states. Iraq is under a new lockdown, with mosques and schools closed, and curfews at night and weekends. Hospitals in Mexico and other low and middle-income countries are running out of oxygen. In the U.S., the steep fall in confirmed infections — from a daily average of about 73,400 new cases over the past week compared to 250,000 per day in early January, according to a CNBC analysis
— may be stalling, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday.
Different trends are playing out in different parts of the world. “There are many countries thankfully where that (downward trajectory) is happening,” Ryan said, “and there are many countries in which that downward trend is not being achieved.”
Many of the new surges are being blamed on VOCs — highly contagious virus “variants of concern,” that are also taking root across Canada.
“What we do know in countries that are applying persistent and consistent measures in terms of public health and social measures and individual behaviour that that is affecting the trajectory of all variants,” Ryan said.
While they have a propensity for higher levels of transmission, “what is clear is that the control measures … are effective in driving that down,” he said.
According to a Feb. 23 WHO situation update, the number of global cases fell for the sixth consecutive week last week, an 11 per cent decline compared to the previous week.
The number of new deaths reported — 66,000 — also fell, by 20 percent week over week.
As of Friday, there were 111 million confirmed cases, and 2.5 million deaths, globally.
The five countries reporting the highest number of new cases continue to be the U.S., Brazil, France, Russia and India. But, as the Financial Times reports, some of the steepest declines have also been in some of the countries slammed the hardest last year, including the U.S., U.K., South Africa, Israel and Portugal.
In Britain, where Queen Elizabeth yesterday recalled her COVID vaccine experience on a video call, saying that the shot “didn’t hurt at all,” and encouraging the hesitant to “think about other people rather than themselves,” the COVID alert level has been lowered a notch because hospitals are no longer at risk of being overwhelmed.
Finland, however, enters a three-week lockdown on March 8 to hold back a surge in cases. Finland boasts the third lowest infection rate in Europe, after Iceland and Norway, but has seen a rapid rise in new daily cases, Reuters reports, with 590 reported this week, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
Still, the overall fall in cases globally is raising hope the worst of a “wretched year,” as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it this week , is over, and while trends can reverse, “patience, prudence” and vaccines, experts say, bring more hope of a reprieve from COVID.
Vaccines are playing a part, but the plummeting infections aren’t likely owing to vaccines, yet, Harvard University epidemiologist Michael Mina tweeted in early February. Tighter restrictions have helped curb spread: Infections have dropped by two-thirds across England since lockdown began in January, the BBC reports.
Mina speculated it could be a combination of seasonality and immunity from older infections in the first wave.
Still, infections are increasing in Maharashtra, India. Brazil is now facing its fourth time round.
“It’s a lesson now for all of us that this is not over,” Ryan said at the WHO media briefing Friday. “It’s not over for anybody. And any relaxation of our resolve is dangerous,” he said.
“We need to be very aware: This virus still has a lot of energy and if the measures we apply are not persistent, comprehensive and aimed at continuing to suppress transmission while introducing vaccines, we will pay a price.”