Health leaders warn against Covid-19 complacency

Jakarta, Indonesia- The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned countries not to be complacent about the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that risks of dangerous new variants remained real.

A G20 summit meeting in Indonesia.
A G20 summit meeting in Indonesia.  © Twitter/g20org

Although the numbers of reported coronavirus cases and deaths have declined 90% from their peaks in January and restrictions have been lifted in many countries, "the perception that the pandemic is over... [is] misguided," WHO Secretary General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"[The] WHO remains very concerned that the lack of testing and sequencing is blinding us to the evolution of the virus," Ghebreyesus told a meeting of health ministers from the G20 group of the world's major economies in Indonesia.

"We are equally concerned that the lessons of this pandemic will go unlearned and the cycle of panic and neglect will be repeated," he warned.

G20 health ministers meet to discuss ongoing global pandemic response

A group meeting was held at the summit, called Strengthening Global Health System Resilience.
A group meeting was held at the summit, called Strengthening Global Health System Resilience.  © Twitter/g20org

The G20 health ministers were expected this week to discuss ways to strengthen global health systems, harmonize Covid-19 health protocols, and standardize international travel documents, Indonesian Health Ministry spokesperson Nadia Tarmizi said.

"Global cooperation is critical to overcoming the pandemic and ensuring we are prepared for the next one," Tarmizi said at a news conference ahead of the ministerial meeting.

"For this reason, this meeting is an important moment for the G20 to gather support to increase the capacity of the national, regional, and global health systems," she added.

The health ministers were also scheduled to meet G20 finance ministers on Tuesday to discuss a Financial Intermediary Fund, a financial arrangement involving public and private resources to prevent and respond to future pandemics.

Cover photo: Twitter/g20org

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