It has been almost 3 years since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Wuhan, changing the world as we knew it. To this day, the emergence of new variants and outbreaks continues to be a concern for governments worldwide. However, we can now say there is light at the end of the tunnel.
According to the World Health Organization, “The pandemic may be coming to an end”. In this edition of Thursday Thunder, we’ll see what their estimates suggest. Additionally, we will review Syria’s cholera outbreak.
WHO: The End of the Pandemic Might Be Close
When is COVID going to end? That’s the million dollar question we’ve all been asking ourselves for the last few years. Well, there’s good news.
“The world has never been in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said at a briefing in Geneva last week.
The forecast is based largely on current infection numbers: Last week, Covid-19 reported the lowest number of deaths since March 2020.
Lingering Challenges and Progress
The WHO’s director, however, emphasized that “we are not there yet” as there is still a risk of more variants, severe cases, and uncertainty. Yet, as he concluded, we must “take advantage of this opportunity.”
Trends show a steady decline in COVID cases across five regions. These are the current decline rates:
- 31% in the European region
- 25% in the South-East Asia region
- 22% in the Americas region
- 11% in the Western Pacific region
- 10% in the Eastern Mediterranean region
What Comes Next?
The WHO has published six policy briefs based on the experience of the past 32 months. The briefs outline some key actions the governments should take to speed up the end of the pandemic. Mainly, they are intended to provide guidance on how to save lives, strengthen health systems and avoid economic and social ills.
Plus, although two-thirds of the world’s population is vaccinated with at least its initial series, lower-income countries still have significant disparities in Covid-19 vaccination rates. Hence, this is another challenge governments must address to end the pandemic.
Now, let’s see what’s happening in Syria
First Cholera Outbreak in Syria in Years
The UN expressed concern as a result of the first confirmed outbreak of cholera in Syria in several years, and called it a “risk to the region.”
Cholera is an infection caused by Vibrio cholera bacteria found in contaminated food and water. An untreated severe case of the disease can become fatal within hours if left untreated.
According to Syrian sources, eight deaths and more than 900 suspected cases have been reported in recent weeks. The current outbreak is mainly occurring in Aleppo and Deir al-Zour provinces.
More than 670 of those suspected cases and six of the deaths occurred in Aleppo, while 201 cases and two deaths occurred in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.
The outbreak is believed to have been caused by contaminated water from the Euphrates river, which flows through the provinces.
Plus, another larger problem is that climate change and the ongoing war in Syria are causing severe water shortages. Thus, damage to supply and sewage infrastructure, high temperatures, low rainfall and a reduced flow from Turkey have resulted in historic lows in the Euphrates river.
United Nations Intervention
So far, the UN delivered rapid diagnostic tests, intravenous fluids and rehydration salts to health centers in at-risk and affected areas. Among other efforts to contain the outbreak, trucks are delivering clean water and chlorination is being increased.
Day by day we are seeing progress in the fight against COVID, and we seem to be making great strides towards the end of the pandemic. For what follows, we must not forget all the lessons we have learned so far. Nowadays, it is more important than ever for travelers to take good care of their health.
If you are planning to travel soon, do your bit: get tested by COVID-19 and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Find testing locations near you with our international directory.