A World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson said on Friday (March 18) that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was a long way off, citing a rise in cases in its latest weekly data.
The U.N. health agency has previously said that the acute phase of the pandemic could end this year, but it would depend on how quickly the world can meet its target to vaccinate 70% of the population in each country, among other factors.
Asked by a journalist at a Geneva media briefing about the timing of the pandemic’s end, Margaret Harris said it was “far from over.”
“We are definitely in the middle of the pandemic,” she added.
After more than a month of decline, COVID cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China’s Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak.
A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its cousin the BA.2 sub-variant, and the lifting of public health and social measures, the WHO said.
(Production: Cecile Mantovani)