COVID-19 is no longer a worldwide health emergency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
COVID was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the organization on January 20, 2020, the highest level of alert under international law.
Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said during a press conference on Friday that the decision was made by the global health organization’s international health regulations emergency committee at its 15th meeting on Thursday.
The pandemic has been on a downward trend for more than a year, according to the director-general, with population immunity increasing, mortality reducing, and demand on health-care systems easing.
“This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19,” he said.
“For the past year, the emergency committee – and WHO – have been analysing the data carefully and considering when the time would be right to lower the level of alarm.
“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.”
Ghebreyesus, on the other hand, cautioned that the designation did not mean COVID was no longer a global health hazard, noting that the virus claimed a life every three minutes in the preceding week.
“As we speak, thousands of people around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units,” he said.
“And millions more continue to live with the debilitating effects of post-COVID-19 condition.
“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.
“The worst thing any country could 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 is nothing to worry about.
“What this news means is that it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.”