In Focus

Covid-19 no longer a global health emergency, says WHO

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Most countries are returning to life as we knew it before COVID-19, the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

“For more than a year, the pandemic has been on a downward trend with population immunity increasing from vaccination and infection, mortality decreasing, and the pressure on health systems easing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference in Geneva, adding this trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19.” “It’s therefore with great hope that I declared Covid-19 over as a global health emergency.”

The news conference followed discussion on COVID-19 by WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Thursday.

The committee members highlighted the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

The committee concluded it was time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan outlines important actions for countries to consider for five areas: collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures, and emergency coordination.

Tedros, however, cautioned that there is still a risk that new variant could emerge and cause another spike in cases. He warned governments against dismantling the systems they have built over the last three years to fight the virus.

“This virus is here to stay. It’s still killing and it’s still changing,” he said.