WHO chief as Covid cases rise in 4 regions: ‘increasingly difficult to know…’

Published on May 18, 2022 07:53 AM IST
  • North Korea has reported about 1.7 million Covid cases so far, days after it registered its first case.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference in Geneva.(Reuters / File)
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference in Geneva.(Reuters / File)
By | Written by Kunal Gaurav

A decline in genome sequencing and testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has made it “increasingly difficult” to know where the virus is and how it is mutating, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday as cases have risen over the last week in four out of six WHO regions.

“Over the last week, Covid-19 cases have risen in four out of the six WHO regions. Due to testing and sequencing reducing in many countries, it is increasingly difficult to know where the virus is and how it’s mutating,” the WHO director-general said.

He also expressed concern over the first reported Covid outbreak in North Korea, with more than 1.7 million suspected cases since late April. On Wednesday, North Korea reported 232,880 new cases of fever and six related deaths as the virus continues to spread rapidly in the unvaccinated population.

“WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of Covid-19 in the country particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death,” Tedros told a media briefing in Geneva.

Amid Covid outbreak, North Korea's Kim deploys army to battle ‘fever’: 5 points

He said the UN health agency has requested the secretive country to share data and information on the Covid outbreak, adding that a package of technical support and supplies, including diagnostic tests, essential medicines, and vaccines have also been offered.

Speaking on China’s ‘zero Covid policy’, the WHO chief described the extreme approach to containing the coronavirus as unsustainable because of the highly infectious nature of the omicron variant. He had made similar remarks about China’s Covid strategy drawing sharp criticism from Beijing.

“We know the virus better and we have better tools, including vaccines, so that’s why the handling of the virus should actually be different from what we used to do at the start of the pandemic,” Tedros said, adding that the virus had changed significantly since it was first identified in Wuhan in late 2019.

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