Zurich – The number of new coronavirus infections globally rose last week for the first time in seven weeks, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
Tedros said the rise was “disappointing but not surprising” and urged countries not to relax measures to fight the spread of the disease. He suggested that countries were hastening to loosen those measures, betting on vaccines to bring an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If countries rely solely on vaccines, they are making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response,” Tedros said.
He noted that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire became the first countries on Monday to begin vaccinating people with doses supplied by Covax, the international programme to provide vaccines for poor and middle-income countries. But he also criticised rich countries for hoarding vaccine doses.
“It’s regrettable that some countries continue to prioritise vaccinating younger healthier adults at lower risk of diseases in their own populations, ahead of health workers and older people elsewhere,” Tedros said.
Meanwhile, the Finnish government declared a state of emergency on Monday due to rising Covid-19 infections, a step that would allow the Nordic country to shutter restaurants and to impose other measures to blunt the pandemic.
The decision comes as new variants contribute to a sharp rise in infections in the country, which has already closed its borders. The state of emergency would also allow the government to further shut schools and limit movement between regions.
“The government sees it necessary that we all have fewer contacts,” Prime Minster Sanna Marin told a news conference. “Everyone now has the opportunity to impact how the spring and summer will turn out.”
Several Finnish regions have seen a rapid rise in Covid-19 infections in the past two weeks, with outbreaks among skiers in Lapland and workers at shipping yards and construction sites.
Finland, among the European countries least affected by the virus so far, has recorded 58 064 cases and 742 deaths since the start of the pandemic with 210 people currently hospitalised.