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WHO Foundation chief ‘very concerned’ over UK dismantling Covid testing as pandemic ‘isn’t over’

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A leading figure in the World Health Organisation Foundation has criticised the UK’s move to dismantle its Covid testing programme as the disease surges in other parts of the world.

Mr Anil Soni, chief executive of the WHO Foundation, said in an interview with The Independent that maintaining surveillance over Covid-19 was “incredibly important” and the “dismantling of the testing infrastructure here strikes me as very worrying.”

The WHO Foundation chief warned people were “looking the other way” from counties where there is low vaccine coverage to maintain the hope that Covid is over.

He warned low vaccine coverage is a “petri dish” for future variants to breed and that the acute phase of the pandemic could not be over until this is addressed.

When asked about the UK’s plans to end its NHS Test and Trace programme Mr Soni said: “I’m very concerned about it.

“What we’ve seen is, it’s incredibly important to maintain surveillance, and countries in southern Africa should be applauded for detecting Omicron as quickly as they did. Those surveillance systems need to be in place around the world.

“We also want to make sure that testing is widely available so that people, when they become infectious, can be aware of their status and keep others safe. For testing not to be available and for us to be moving too quickly to normalcy creates risk.”

Mr Soni said the world’s position with Covid was “precarious” and highlighted the surge being seen in Hong Kong, where “health centres are at the verge of collapse, because of how many people are sick”.

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Source: The Independent, 10 March 2022

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