The Head of the World Health Organisation has said the end of Covid-19 could be in sight by the end of this year. Director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus gave his hopeful message out just as many countries are reimposing restrictions and locking down once more due to the Omicron variant driving up cases.
Ghebreyesus still believes that the crisis could draw to a close in 2022 even as global infection rates hit records highs last week, with over a million people a day infected in the run-up to New Year. Despite the new strain looking to produce much milder symptoms than previous variants, the sheer number of infections has been threatening to overwhelm health services around the world.
But the health chief struck a positive note during his end of year address and said this could be a pivotal period in the fight against coronavirus. He said: “As we enter the third year of the pandemic, I am confident that this will be the year we end it, but only if we do it together.”
The director-general called for greater cooperation on disease prevention and surveillance, adding: “I believe that if we can make progress on these goals, we will be gathering again, at the end of 2022, not to mark the end of a third year of pandemic, but to celebrate a return to pre-Covid norms, when we gathered with our families and communities to celebrate together and cherish each other’s company and love.”
He also addressed vaccine insecurity in poorer nations and urged countries to work together to help the world hit the target of vaccinating 70% of people everywhere, to address the huge imbalances between rates around the planet and see the end of Covid-19.
The UK has recorded close to one million cases of Covid-19 in the last week, an unprecedented wave.
Ministers have resisted calls to reintroduce wholesale restrictions but have decided to reintroduce mask-wearing in school ahead of the start of the new term. The Department for Education said the move will “maximise the number of children in school’ for the ‘maximum amount of time”.
Spain has also reintroduced mandatory mask-wearing outside across the country and some regional governments have reintroduced stricter measures such as curfews and business hours shortening.
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