WHO: COVID-19 global health emergency over
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that COVID-19 pandemic no longer represents a “global health emergency”.
The statement represents a major step towards ending the pandemic and comes three years after it first declared its highest level of alert over the virus.
Officials said the virus’ death rate had dropped from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on April 24. The head of the WHO said at least seven million people died in the pandemic.
But Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the true figure was “likely” closer to 20 million deaths – nearly three times the official estimate – and he warned that the virus remained a significant threat.
“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’ve accepted that advice. It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 pandemic over as a global health emergency,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.
He added that the decision had been considered carefully for some time and made on the basis of careful analysis of data.
But he warned the removal of the highest level of alert did not mean the danger was over, and said the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed.
“The worst thing any country can do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that COVID-19 pandemic is nothing to worry about,” he said.
The World Health Organisation first declared COVID-19 pandemic to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in January 2020.
This signalled the need for coordinated global action to protect people from the new virus. It will now be up to individual countries to continue to manage COVID-19 pandemic in the way they think best.
Vaccines were one of the major turning points in the pandemic. According to the WHO, 13 billion doses have been given, allowing many people to be protected from serious illness and death. -BBC