The Lowdown Hub

Acting as if Covid-19 is over is 'Inviting it back in our lives'

Special Envoys of the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General on Covid-19 say they are watching "in dismay" as the world tries to "get back to normal". It's too soon, they say, for countries around the world to dismantle public health measures and infrastructure that reduced the spread of Covid-19 and protected so many from complications and death, they write in a guest column for allAfrica. The most-effective and easiest public health measures for officials to implement - such as social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing and management of public venues where people congregate - have, in many places, been eased or even abandoned. "Just as worrying is seeing governments reduce testing, contact tracing and surveillance - the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data, including genetic sequencing that alerts us to emerging variants. Whatever the reasons - an assumption that the worst is over; that public health measures are too intrusive and expensive; or that money could be better spent elsewhere - these decisions are wrong. They are premature; they mislead the public; and they are leaving us blind," they wrote, as the WHO launches the Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response plan for 2022, outlining a number of key strategic adjustments that, if implemented rapidly and consistently at national, regional, and global levels, will enable the world to end the acute phase of the pandemic