W-H-O Declare Covid-19 Is No Longer A Global Health Emergency

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COVID has changed our world, and it has changed us.”

The words of the World Health Organisation’s Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus who’s declared that the global health emergency is over!

1,221 days ago a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause was discovered in Wuhan, China.

The subsequent declaration of the COVID-19 virus turned our world upside down.

Almost seven million deaths have been reported, but the toll is several times higher – at least 20 million.

Health systems have been severely disrupted, with millions missing out on essential health services, including vaccinations for children.

COVID-19 has caused severe economic upheaval, erasing trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, shuttering businesses, and plunging millions into poverty.

It has caused severe social upheaval, with borders closed, movement restricted, schools shut and millions of people experiencing loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression.

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.

This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19.

However the W-H-O’s Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus says the virus is here to stay:

However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.

Last week, COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes – and that’s just the deaths we know about.

As we speak, thousands of people around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units.

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.

I emphasise that this is not a snap decision. It is a decision that has been considered carefully for some time, planned for, and made on the basis of a careful analysis of the data.

If need be, I will not hesitate to convene another Emergency Committee should COVID-19 once again put our world in peril.

While this Emergency Committee will now cease its work, it has sent a clear message that countries must not cease theirs.

On the Committee’s advice, I have decided to use a provision in the International Health Regulations that has never been used before, to establish a Review Committee to develop long-term, standing recommendations for countries on how to manage COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.

In addition, WHO this week published the 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.”