Not there yet, but…

Not there yet, but…

Column: Thoughts by Armenio Manuel

We get invigorated by the statement of World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following some breather post the strict lockdowns of the coronavirus 2019 health emergency.

Ghebreyesus summed it up, thusly, “We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over – but we’re not there yet.”

We hear his statement while we look at the country’s bulletin board: Coronavirus Cases: 4,039,978; deaths 64,701; recovered 3,956,847.

And then we see in our midst, in many a gathering including church services in the capital, and likely the metropolis scenario is similar in the countryside, that many of our countrymen no longer wear face masks and social distancing is no longer part of their erstwhile strict behavior.

The World Health Organization has estimated that 9 percent of the world population now had some resistance to COVID-19, but warned that a troubling new variant could still emerge.

“WHO estimates that at least 90 percent of the world’s population now has some level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to prior infection or vaccination,” said Tedros, referring to the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

COVID-19, if we have forgotten after it stormed into the country in March 2020, is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Most people who fall sick with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention.

An add-on information, is that the virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols.

World health experts say you can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are near someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus spreads more easily indoors and in crowded settings.

Ghebreyesus said gaps in vigilance were leaving the door open for a new virus variant to appear and overtake the globally dominant Omicron.

“We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over — but we’re not there yet,” he said, adding “gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing, and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern to emerge that could cause significant mortality.”

Last weekend marked one year since the WHO announced Omicron as a new variant of concern in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has since swept around the world, proving significantly more transmissible than its predecessor, Delta.

Tedros said there were now more than 500 highly transmissible Omicron sub-lineages circulating — all able to get around built-up immunity more easily, even if they tended to be less severe than previous variants.

According to Tedros, countries have reported 6.6 million deaths, from nearly 640 million registered cases. But the UN health agency says this will be a massive undercount, and unreflective of the true toll.

Tedros said more than 8,500 people were recorded as having lost their lives to COVID last week.

Meanwhile, China has continued to reel from the pandemic severely. The country reported 33,073 Covid-19 infections on 2 December.

However, the case count is slipping as China loosens restrictions in some cities, including testing requirements and quarantine rules, and is expected to announce an easing of its COVID quarantine protocols in the coming days.

China’s capital Beijing reported 703 symptomatic and 2,610 asymptomatic cases, compared with 942 symptomatic and 3,026 asymptomatic cases the previous day.

Financial hub Shanghai reported 27 symptomatic cases and 264 asymptomatic cases, compared with 26 symptomatic cases and 209 asymptomatic cases a day before.

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms:

–fever

–cough

–tiredness

–loss of taste or smell

Less common symptoms:

–sore throat

–headache

–aches and pains

–diarrhea

–a rash on the skin, or discoloration of fingers or toes

–red or irritated eyes

We ask: what are variants of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19?

Experts say it is normal for viruses to change and evolve as they spread between people over time.

When these changes become significantly different from the original virus, they are known as “variants.” To identify variants, scientists map the genetic material of viruses (known as sequencing) and then look for differences between them to see if they have changed.

Since the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been spreading globally, variants have emerged and been identified in many countries around the world.

We need to monitor our behavior, particularly when we are outside where people of different persuasions and characters meet.

It’s for our health and safety to be always and in all ways on guard.

(ai/mtvn)

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