WHO chief 'very concerned' about rising global COVID-19 deaths

Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2023 12:41 PM

Workers process the body of fatalities during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila at the Baesa Crematorium in Novaliches on May 5, 2020. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/File
Workers process the body of fatalities during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila at the Baesa Crematorium in Novaliches on May 5, 2020. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said it is "very concerned" about the increasing number of global COVID-19 deaths. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told a media briefing at their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland that over 170,000 people died from COVID-19 in the past eight weeks. "That’s just reported deaths; the actual number of deaths is much higher."

"I remain very concerned by the situation in many countries and the rising number of deaths," he said. "While we are clearly in better shape than 3 years ago when this pandemic first hit, the global collective response is once again under strain."

From Jan. 9 to 15 alone, 13,000 deaths were recorded globally. A total of 6.7 million have so far died from the disease. But the latest figures from the WHO do not include the 58,938 COVID-related deaths announced by China from Dec. 8 last year to Jan. 12. 

Ghebreyesus lamented that "too few people – especially older people and health workers – are adequately vaccinated."

Surveillance and genetic systems have also declined drastically which poses a challenge in terms of tracking the virus and detecting new variants. 

"Fragile health systems are struggling to cope with the burden of COVID-19, on top of caring for patients with other diseases including flu and RSV," he said.

Aside from this, the WHO said that misinformation and "pseudo-science" continue to circulate which affects public trust in safe and effective tools that can be used against the disease.

“My message is clear – do not underestimate this virus. It has and will continue to surprise us and it will continue to kill, unless we do more to get health tools to people that need them and to comprehensively tackle misinformation,” Ghebreyesus said.

In the past week, the Philippines reported 104 COVID-related fatalities, pushing the death toll to 65,000.

Jan. 30 will mark the third year since the WHO declared the then novel coronavirus outbreak as a public heath emergency of international concern. It was then characterized as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

As of Jan. 24, more than 664.6 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded by the WHO.

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