Covid-19 no longer a global health emergency

Concern as new vaccine-resistant virus emerges
Covid-19 no longer a global health emergency. (Photo: Freepik)

Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern. The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement on Friday, marking exactly three years since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China.

“Yesterday, the Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted that advice. It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency.”

He says COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the world, causing almost 7 million reported deaths. The toll is likely to be closer to 20 million deaths. It also caused severe economic and social upheaval.

“COVID-19 has been so much more than a health crisis. It has caused severe economic upheaval, erasing trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, shuttering businesses, and plunging millions into poverty.”

COVID-19 remains a global health threat

Ghebreyesus says COVID-19 is still a global health threat, and the risk remains of new variants emerging that could cause new surges in cases and deaths. He urged countries not to let their guard down and to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.

“This virus is here to stay. It is still killing, and it’s still changing. The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths. What this news means is that it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.”

He also announced a Review Committee has been established to develop long-term, standing recommendations for countries on how to manage COVID-19 on an ongoing basis. 

Ready to act if needed

This is in addition to the WHO’s fourth edition of the Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19, which outlines critical actions for countries in five core areas: collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures, and emergency coordination.

The Director-General says the decision to end the public health emergency of international concern was not a snap decision but made on the basis of careful analysis of the data. He warned that if necessary, he would not hesitate to convene another Emergency Committee should COVID-19 once again put the world in peril.

“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated political fault lines, within and between nations. And it has laid bare the searing inequalities of our world, with the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest hit, and the last to receive access to vaccines and other tools.” – Health-e News

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  • Health-e News

    Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews

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