THE World Health Organisation (WHO)has said acute COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisations could end this year, if governments remain vigilant in enforcing public health measures set to control the spread of the virus.
WHO chief of emergencies, Mike Ryan in a recent statement, however, emphasised that the virus was unlikely to go away completely, but could probably morph into mild
“With regards to the pandemic, we have been saying this for a very long time. The acute phase of the pandemic, the pandemic that’s been associated with the tragedy of deaths and hospitalisations — that can end in 2022. The virus itself is very unlikely to go away completely and will probably settle down into a pattern of transmission, low level causing occasional outbreaks in under-vaccinated populations,” Ryan said.
“And we hope that is the end game, but we are not there yet. This is going to be a bumpy road on the way to low levels of COVID-19, but I think the most important thing at this moment is we need to be careful about changing tactics and strategies immediately on the basis of what we are seeing in early Omicron data.”
He discouraged governments from easing their COVID-19 control measures on the basis of initial preliminary studies as that could trigger a surge in new infections.
Government last week extended the level two lockdown measures by a further two weeks and deferred the reopening of schools to curb the spread of the Omicrom variant.
Latest statistics released by the Health ministry show that on Monday, there were 1 209 new COVID-19 cases recorded, while 15 people succumbed to the virus.
However, Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya said the COVID-19 pandemic could last beyond 2023 if the public continued with the complacent behaviour towards observing the COVID-19 protocols.
“Pandemics don’t just end with a few deaths. Globally, pandemics kill a lot of people, millions, according to their historical backgrounds. We haven’t seen anything yet if people continue with the lackadaisical approach on complying with the prevention measures. This COVID-19 is being perpetuated by the global population gross complacency which is promoting virus mutation, and other changes. As long as we are allowing the virus to spread like we are doing, the COVID-19 pandemic will outlive other pandemics in the past. The Spanish flu, for instance, lasted for about three years, but COVID-19 may last longer if people remain complacent,” Ngwenya said.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said:
“The big problem is that people are taking their focus from the main challenge which is the COVID-19 pandemic and are now instead focusing on the Omicron variant, but the control measures remain the same, what may differ is that some strains are more virulent or cause more severe illnesses than others. The general COVID-19 prevention measures should continue to be adhered to, including vaccination.”