COVID numbers still dropping in Durham Region as WHO declares end to “global health emergency”

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Published May 10, 2023 at 4:03 pm

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

COVID-19 continues to decline in Durham Region as the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the virus “no longer a global health emergency,” more than three years after the pandemic was first declared.

New cases in Durham continue to drop – they topped 100 two weeks ago and are at just 50 for the week of April 30-May 6 and hospital cases also continue to fall, with just nine last week, with two in ICUs. The previous reporting period had 11, with four in ICUs.

The weekly incidence rate (per 100,000) is also down to 6.8 vs 8.5.

WHO’s Emergency Committee met last Friday and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the call to end the public health emergency.

The WHO’s emergency committee first declared that COVID represented its highest level of alert on January 30, 2020, more than two months before the pandemic was declared in Canada. The status helped focus international attention on a health threat, as well as bolstering collaboration on vaccines and treatments.

Lifting the emergency status is a sign of progress but Ghebreyesus cautioned that it doesn’t mean COVID-19, which has killed nearly seven million people worldwide, is over as a global health threat. COVID is “here to stay,” he said, even if its global status has been downgraded.

The virus is still present in Durham, even if most of the underlying numbers are dropping. It is still showing up in wastewater testing at treatment plants in Whitby and Clarington and not all the numbers are improving.

The per cent positivity rate climbed slightly to 6.2 per cent (from 4.8 per cent) and there are four current outbreaks at local hospitals, long term care homes and retirement centres (from three), though none of the outbreaks are new.

The one statistic that counts the most rose as well. There was one death from the virus last week.

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