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COVID still considered a global health threat

By Randy Thoms Jan 16, 2024 | 4:15 PM

Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

The World Health Organization says COVID is still a global health threat.

The positivity rate ranges from six to 10 per cent, but the WHO says those statistics are from only countries still tracking and reporting COVID.

In Canada, Public Health Canada indicates over 10 thousand reported cases and 59 deaths for the week ending January 6.

The WHO’s Director of Epidemic & Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention,

Doctor Maria Van Kerkhove, says as many as 10 thousand people a month are still dying from the virus.

“Among those 10,000 deaths reported in December, more than half were reported from the United States of America, 1,000 from Italy,” says Dr. Van Kerkhove.

There has also been a 42 per cent increase in the number of hospitalizations and a 62 per cent increase in ICU admissions.

Those numbers only reflect reporting from less than 30 countries.

“There is complacency that’s out there, to not want to talk about it. Our role as WHO is to work with governments to ensure that the legacy of COVID in the strengthening of surveillance systems, of clinical care, of community protection, of infection prevention control, is maintained to deal with current and future threats.”

The WHO is reports increased cases of other respiratory viruses this winter, such as influenza, RSV and mycoplasma pneumonia, which impacts children.

Dr. Van Kerkhove says we are not in a crisis and that case numbers are nowhere near the levels reached at the height of the pandemic, but COVID is still having an impact.

Dr. Van Kerkhove says keeping up to date with vaccinations remains the best defence against the virus.

The WHO also recommends mask-wearing, especially by healthcare workers in direct contact with COVID patients.

It has been five years since the first COVID in the world was reported in China.