THE COVID pandemic is at a “critical point” and people need a “reality check” as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
Restrictions were eased yesterday in England in line with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown – as infections have plummeted in the UK.
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It was yesterday reported that cases in the UK have dropped by 23 per cent in a fortnight to 3,568 infections compared to 4,645 on March 29.
Deaths have also halved in the last week as the spread continues to slow.
Many experts have hailed the vaccine rollout for the fall in fatalities and infections and so far in the UK over 32 million people have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine with 7.6 million now having had both doses.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said the "bulk of the work" had been done by people staying inside, but that the vaccine rollout had "helped".
But the head of the WHO’s technical response has now said that vaccines alone are not enough to combat the virus as cases are now "spiralling" on a global scale.
Speaking at a press conference Dr Maria van Kerkhove said people need to continue to try and prevent infections.
She said: "We need headlines around these public health and social measures, we need headlines around the tools that we have right now that can prevent infections and save lives.
"We are in a critical point of the pandemic right now, the trajectory of this pandemic is growing.
"It's the seventh week in a row where we've had more than 4.4 million new cases reported in the last week (around the world).
"If you compare that to a year ago we had about 500,000 cases being reported per week… the trajectory of the pandemic right now is growing exponentially."
She added that "this is not a situation we want to be in" 16 months into the global pandemic when there are measure available to control the spread.
"It is time right now where everyone has to take stock and have a reality check about what we need to be doing.
"Take a look at what people are doing and how you are mixing, make sure you are doing the right steps that you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe", she said.
Dr van Kerkhove said governments need to support individuals so that the control measures in place are “applied consistently and are applied in a coherent manner”.
"It is vaccines but it's not vaccines-only – it's vaccines and what can you be doing everyday, what can you be doing to keep yourself safe and your loved ones safe”, she said.
In England the use of face masks is still required in areas where social distancing is not possible such as public transport and enclosed spaces such as supermarkets and shops.
Social distancing guidelines are still in place, but as many people flocked to pubs and restaurants last night, it was clear the two metre rule was not being observed by all.
Vaccines are still being rolled out, with the Moderna jab now also joining the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and the Pfizer/BioNTech offering which are available to Brits.
WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned that vaccines are not the "only tool" to combat coronavirus.
He added: "This pandemic is a long way from over, but we have many reasons for optimism.
"The decline in… deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped.
"With a concerted effort to apply public health measures, alongside equitable vaccination, we could bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months."
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