White House announces second global Covid-19 summit for May

Online gathering to convene as regions report rise in coronavirus cases

A health worker conducts a swab test for coronavirus during a lockdown in Pudong district in Shanghai, China. AFP
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Nations are to connect online next month for a second coronavirus summit, according to a joint statement released by the White House on Monday.

At the top of the agenda for May 12 is strengthening “collective efforts to end the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for future health threats”, the statement by the US, chairs of the G7, G20, African Union and Caribbean Communities said.

The last summit was co-ordinated by the US in September 2021, before more-transmissible variants of the virus swept the world.

“The emergence and spread of new variants, like Omicron, have reinforced the need for a strategy aimed at controlling Covid-19 worldwide,” the statement said.

Now, the second summit comes as China is battling its largest coronavirus surge in the entire pandemic, placing a strict weeks-long lockdown on Shanghai and other cities.

The US has wound down its Covid prevention funding - against the wishes of President Joe Biden.

The Senate agreed a bill that omitted financing its global aid response to the pandemic.

However, case numbers are rising in some parts of the country after a sustained lull. Philadelphia on Monday reinstated an indoor mask mandate.

The joint statement said the summit will discuss central challenges in the pandemic.

These include: increasing vaccinations, sending out tests and treatments, prioritising high-risk groups, “expanding and protecting the health workforce”, building out research development and medical supply chains, and supporting health systems against future threats and pandemics.

“Together, we can mitigate the impact of Covid-19,” the statement said.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 1:41 PM