The World Health Organization repeated its calls for global vigilance on Monday, asking citizens to fight against “COVID-19 pandemic fatigue.”
More than seven months since the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic, the agency again acknowledged the cascading effect the health crisis has had on people, both mentally and physically.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he understands the difficulties people are facing, but emphasized that everyone must remain mindful, especially as cases climb again in countries that once were improving.
“Working from home, children being schooled remotely, not being able to celebrate milestones with friends and family or not being there to mourn loved ones — it’s tough and the COVID-19 fatigue is real,” Tedros said.
“But we cannot give up. We must not give up.”
“Pandemic fatigue” or “COVID fatigue” is essentially a feeling of collective burnout or exhaustion. As time has passed and the world has learned to live with the virus in some capacity, experts believe keeping up precautions like physical distancing, masking and handwashing can feel like more and more of a challenge.
“Pandemic fatigue evolves gradually over time and is affected by the cultural, social, structural and legislative environment,” the WHO said in an Oct. 7 statement.
“Finding effective ways to tackle this fatigue and reinvigorate public vigilance is a growing challenge as the crisis continues.”
More recently, experts have expressed concerns that a grim fall and winter could exacerbate the “pandemic fatigue,” where weariness over wearing masks and staying away from others only grows as cold weather forces people indoors more.
Similar warnings have been broadcast by world leaders and prominent health authorities — among them, Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam.
On repeated occasions, Tam has urged Canadians — particularly young Canadians currently fuelling the spread of the virus in many parts of the country — to “not give in to COVID-19 fatigue.”
“This is your generation and your future that is being shaped. Younger age groups are not invincible against COVID-19,” she said back in June.
“If we let our guard down, the disease will work its way to our parents, and grandparents and other vulnerable people who need to be protected through our actions.”
Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world, with more than 43,230,000 confirmed cases in 189 countries and more than 1,150,000 deaths.
Until a vaccine or effective treatments are available globally, the WHO says the tried-and-true protective behaviours must be followed.
— with files from The Associated Press
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