22 June 2022 — Over the past few weeks, reported cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue to decline globally and regionally. Naturally, we feel relieved with this news. But is it really the time to let our guard down? While we observe these encouraging trends, we need to interpret them cautiously.

Many countries have reduced testing and sequencing services. This means that we are not receiving the information needed to analyse the pandemic trajectory precisely. The virus will evolve, and how it will do so is still challenging to predict.

As of 20 June, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region has reported over 21 890 000 COVID-19 cases and 343 417 deaths. Over the last week only, more than 33 300 cases and 62 deaths were reported. These numbers are not small.

The pandemic is not over and is still a public health emergency. We urge countries to pursue the efforts we all pledged to do.

We call on all countries to vaccinate all health workers, older people and other at-risk groups and apply measures according to their situation and needs.

Recently, the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition concluded that, on further review, currently licensed vaccines provide high levels of protection against severe disease outcomes for all COVID-19 variants, including Omicron, with a booster dose.

On other proven effective measures, we urge countries to tailor their response to their realities and the unique situations they face. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, our current priority is to maintain surveillance, testing and genome sequencing

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