The world needs to step up efforts to combat Covid-19, and countries must not lower their guard, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist warned on Monday as coronavirus cases soar around the world.
“We are in a very risky period,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan of the World Health Organization. “We need to double down, this is not the period to give in.”
Last week, the WHO warned that new Covid-19 cases were on the rise worldwide after six consecutive weeks of declines. More than 2.6 million new cases were reported in the last week of February, 7% more than the previous week, according to the health agency.
He added that the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, Europe and America recorded increases of between 6% and 14% each.
“This is partly due to lockdown fatigue, you know. It’s because people … maybe they get more casual because they think vaccines are on the way,” Swaminathan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” Monday. The new variants may also play a role, he added.
“We need … to do everything we know how to keep these viruses in check, keep transmission low until we have enough vaccines,” he said, warning that health care systems could become overloaded again.
“Health workers around the world are exhausted, they have been fighting this for more than a year,” he added.
Other health experts have also expressed that this is not the time to get complacent.
Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said it is important to recognize that infections, hospitalizations and deaths remain high, even if they have fallen from their peaks in the US.
“We still need to wear our masks, to do social distancing, to avoid large crowds, while we get vaccinated,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.
“Although vaccines are increasing for us in the nation, we cannot let our guard down,” he said. “It is too early to relax.”