The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday announced the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a global health emergency.
“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,” WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus told a press briefing.
“It is, therefore, with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” Ghebreyesus said.
However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat, he said and added that last week the virus claimed “a life every three minutes – and that’s just the deaths we know about.”
“This virus is 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 warned, urging countries to not use this news as a reason “to let down their guard, to dismantle the systems built, or to send the message to people that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.”
He explained that this declaration means that it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.
Underlining this was not a “snap” decision, the WHO chief said: “If need be, I will not hesitate to convene another Emergency Committee should COVID-19 once again put our world in peril.”
Since the pandemic began in December 2019, the COVID-19 infection has caused nearly 7 million deaths, according to the WHO.
The WHO has also recorded 765.3 million confirmed cases of the disease.
The pandemic was declared public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30, 2020.
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