From the Viewsroom

Uneasy calm: Global Covid toll at 5 million

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on November 02, 2021

It was around this time of year that the novel coronavirus, later labelled as SARS-CoV-2, was in early circulation, say experts from the World Health Organization’s team that had visited Wuhan to investigate the origins of this virus.

They are talking of October-November 2019, even before the chatter emerged among doctors in Wuhan in December, involving a “pneumonia of unknown cause”. Two years on, the pandemic-causing virus has claimed a high toll — almost 5 million lives have been lost, globally.

And though there is greater understanding of the virus, an arsenal of vaccines are being deployed across the world and people are beginning to travel on business and leisure — there is an uneasy calm.

In its last weekly epidemiological update (up to October 24), the WHO said, global cases had increased four per cent over the previous week. And deaths, over five per cent. This was for the first time in two months, the WHO said, pointing to the ongoing rise in Europe that outweighed declines in other regions.

In fact, the US which reported the highest cumulative death toll, is also seeing the highest number of deaths in a day at over 1,600 being reported. Russia has seen a surge in cases and reported deaths are over 1,000. Reports from different parts of the world, including the UK and Singapore also reflected rising cases.

Not surprising then, the WHO, after the latest meeting of its emergency committee, put out a note “unanimously” agreeing that Covid-19 was still a “public health emergency of international concern”, with the WHO chief reiterating that the pandemic was “far from over”.

Against this backdrop, and the ongoing race between vaccines and virus variants, public health voices are, however, clear that the tools to stem the rising tide will for sometime continue to be, the humble mask, distancing and hand-washing.

Published on November 02, 2021

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