Covid-19 no longer a global health emergency: WHO

But that does not mean threat is over, says WHO chief

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Covid-19
Covid 19 was first made a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO chief on 30 January, 2020. Photo/Unsplash

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Covid-19 no longer represents a global health emergency – more than three years after the virus wreaked havoc worldwide and forced the organization to issue a global alert.

The WHO’s Emergency Committee met on Thursday and recommended the UN-agency declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern, which has been in place for over three years, Reuters reported.

“It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency”, said WHO director-deneral Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding the end of the emergency did not mean Covid was over as a global health threat.

The WHO website stated, “The WHO director-general concurs with the advice offered by the
committee regarding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. He determines that Covid-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).”

According to WHO’s Coronavirus Dashboard which has collated key statistics since early in the pandemic, the cumulative cases worldwide now stand at 765,222,932, with nearly seven million deaths: the precise figure currently stands at 6,921,614. As of 30 April, a total of more than 13.3 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide.

Ghebreyesus said the virus – first made a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO chief on 30 January, 2020 – was here to stay: “It is still killing and it is still changing. The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths.”

He said that the decision had not been made lightly. For the past year, the WHO-led Emergency Committee had been carefully examining the data, on the right time to lower the alarm.

For over 12 months, the pandemic “has been on a downward trend”, he said, with immunity increasing due to the highly effective vaccines developed in record time to fight the disease, and infections. Death rates have decreased and the pressure on once-overwhelmed health systems has eased.

“This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19,”
Ghebreyesus added.

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