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WHO tempers COVID gauge; end still far off

The head of the World Health Organization on Thursday tempered his assertion that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was near, warning that declaring the crisis over was “still a long way off”.

Last week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the world had “never been in a better position to end the pandemic… The end is in sight.”

And US President Joe Biden went further in an interview broadcast Sunday, declaring that the pandemic in the United States “is over.”

But speaking to the media again Thursday from the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Tedros appeared less upbeat, making clear that “being able to see the end, doesn’t mean we are at the end.”

He reiterated that the world was in the best position it had ever been in to end the pandemic, with the number of weekly deaths continuing to drop—and now just 10 percent of what they were at the peak in January 2021.

In its latest epidemiological update, the WHO said over 9,800 fatalities were reported last week, down 17 percent from a week earlier, while 3.2 million new cases were reported.

“We’re still in the tunnel,” the WHO chief said. But, he stressed, “it is still a long way off, and the tunnel is still dark, with many obstacles that could trip us up if we don’t take care.”

In Manila, the independent monitoring OCTA Research Group said that at least 2,000 COVID-19 cases will be seen daily in the National Capital Region (NCR) during the start of October as the region’s weekly positivity rate increased.

In a tweet, OCTA research fellow Dr. Guido David said the weekly positivity rate in the NCR rose to 17.5 percent as of September 21 from 14.3 percent on September 14.

David said the region’s positivity rate “matched” the previous peak on August 5. The positivity rate refers to the percentage of people found positive for COVID-19 among the total number of individuals tested.

David said the seven-day average of new cases in the NCR also went up to 1,128—an increase of 28 percent from the previous week.

The OCTA chief said this was equivalent to an average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 7.83 per 100,000 population. He said this was considered “moderate” risk.

ADAR is the incidence showing the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 people. The COVID-19 reproduction number in NCR also climbed to 1.26 on September 19 from 1.19 on September 12.

David also said the COVID healthcare utilization in the region remained “low” at 38 percent. The intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rate was at 30 percent. — AFP

 

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