Emergency Lifted, But Covid Still A Threat

by Kevin Burton

     The Covid 19 virus will not disappear tomorrow, though many measures meant to track and prevent it, will.

   All the trends with the virus are headed the right direction and have been for some time. Fewer cases, fewer deaths. There is a definition for “emergency.” Covid no longer meets it.

   “The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Covid-19 no longer represents a ‘global health emergency,’ wrote BBC health reporters Smitha Mundasad and Philippa Roxby in a story last week. “The statement represents a major step towards ending the pandemic and comes three years after it first declared its highest level of alert over the virus.”

    The Covid vaccination requirement for federal workers and foreign travelers entering the US will end tomorrow as will some of the rules for tracking Covid cases. Nations around the world are taking similar steps in the wake of the WHO announcement.  

   “WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the decision had been considered carefully for some time and made on the basis of careful analysis of data. But he warned the removal of the highest level of alert did not mean the danger was over and said the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed.”

   “The worst thing any country can do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about,” he said.

   “The virus’ death rate had dropped from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on April 24,” according to the BBC.

   “The head of the WHO said at least seven million people died in the pandemic. But Dr Ghebreyesus said that the true figure was ‘likely’ closer to 20 million deaths – nearly three times the official estimate – and he warned that the virus remained a significant threat .

   “Ending the public health emergency signals that we think we’ve turned a corner in what was a pretty dark time in America,” said health policy researcher Leighton Ku, who heads the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University in Washington, D.C,” as reported by sciencenews.org.

  “  “Even as the public health emergency becomes yet another relic of a traumatic period, COVID-19 isn’t going away,” Science News wrote. “More than 1,000 people in the United States died from COVID-19 from April 20-26, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the coronavirus continues to evolve. Although not all new variants are worrisome, some can be,” Ku said.  

   The psychological and social impacts of Covid have been nearly as devastating as the its medical effects, points out the Frontiers in Psychology website.

   “Research has highlighted the impact on the psychological well-being of the most exposed groups, including children college students and health workers, who are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety and depression.”

   “The social distance and security measures have affected the relationship among people and their perception of empathy toward others,” the website said.

   I will be most interested to read about those ongoing effects.  While relieved that the virus seems to be less prevalent, I am left with the knowledge that millions of my alleged countrymen behaved with no regard for public safety during the worst of the pandemic.

   To give it a Midwestern spin, imagine a series of tornados moving through and millions of people not only dismissing the threat to life, but actively trying to influence others not to take precautions. 

   It was ignorance in action. Those people can’t be trusted to do the right thing when the next major calamity comes along.  Those lives that were not ended by the virus have been changed. The world we live in is now a different place.

   “The WHO first declared Covid-19 to be a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020.This signaled the need for coordinated global action to protect people from the new virus,” the BBC reported.

   “Dr Mike Ryan, from the WHO’s health emergencies program, said the emergency may have ended, but the threat is still there.

‘We fully expect that this virus will continue to transmit and this is the history of pandemics,’ Ryan said. “It took decades for the final throes of the pandemic virus of 1918 to disappear.

In most cases, pandemics truly end when the next pandemic begins.’”

   Simon Clarke, an associate professor of microbiology at Britain’s University of Reading, warned against people dropping all COVID-19 protections.

   “The message to the public should still be to take care and think of others,” Clarke told ABC News. “If you’re ill with a respiratory infection, like a bad cough, don’t put others at risk, especially not those who are vulnerable,” he said. “If you’re fit and young, COVID can still be nasty and if you’re old and frail, it can kill you.”

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