Following its fourth emergency meeting, the emergency committee, convened by the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “unanimously agreed” the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the WHO highlighted the “anticipated lengthy duration” of the pandemic, noting “the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.”
‘Once-in-a-century health crisis’
“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come”, Tedros told the Committee in his opening remarks on Friday.
“Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths. And some that had large outbreaks have brought them under control.”
The Committee made a range of recommendations to both WHO and Member States.
It advised the agency to continue to mobilize global and regional multilateral organizations and partners for COVID-19 preparedness and response and to support Member States in maintaining health services, while also accelerating the research and eventual access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
It advised countries to support these research efforts, including through funding.
The committee also advised countries to strengthen public health policies to identify cases, and improve speedy contact tracing, “including in low-resource, vulnerable, or high-risk settings and to maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources.”
Countries were also advised by the committee to implement proportionate measures and advice on travel, based on risk assessments, and to review these measures regularly.