WHO recommends strengthened health systems to manage Covid-19

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Covid-19 is still being managed as a pandemic by Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the world, in order to control the spread of the virus.

With the mechanisms put in place attempting to get the world to a ‘new normal’, many are hoping that health officials will soon change the characterisation of Covid-19.

Covid-19 is presently a pandemic – describing its vast spread to multiple countries or continents, and it is hoped that it will soon be labelled an endemic virus like the seasonal flu, meaning people would still get infected, but in more manageable numbers that will not overwhelm public hospital systems and healthcare providers.

However, Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organisation (WHO) explains that even if Covid-19 becomes endemic, it will remain important to reduce infections, suffering and death.

“I think we need to be careful with words here in terms of the word ‘endemic.’ Endemic means in a sense that the virus is present and transmitting at lower levels, usually with some form of seasonal transmission, increases that are seasonal outbreaks on top of an endemic situation that’s very classic for many infectious diseases. But remember endemic HIV and endemic tuberculosis and endemic malaria kill millions of people on this planet every year, so please don’t equate endemic with ‘equals good’,” Dr Ryan warned during a WHO press briefing.

Additionally, he said public health systems across the globe must continue to make efforts to curtail the spread of Covid-19 and keep it under control.

“Endemic diseases require strong controls programmes to reduce the infections, reduce the suffering, reduce the deaths so just changing from pandemic to endemic is just changing the label. That doesn’t change the challenge we face. We need sustained control on this virus, we need sustained protection of our most vulnerable, we need strong health systems to deal with those infections we cannot prevent,” Dr Ryan said.

Antigua and Barbuda as well as some other countries have been incrementally removing Covid-19 protocols to return to some form of normalcy, despite lingering concerns from the public surrounding the virus.

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