COVID-19 Global Health Emergency Has Come to an End, WHO Says

COVID-19 Global Health Emergency Has Come to an End, WHO Says

Although the status of COVID-19 has changed, the World Health Organization Director-General said it “does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a “global health emergency.”

On May 5, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu announced the change in a media briefing. “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,” he said.

Following a recommendation from the Emergency  Committee a day prior, Ghebreyesu stated, “It’s therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency.”

But his remarks didn’t stop there. Ghebreyesu added that this news “does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” as people are still dying from it. In the U.S., 1,046 people died from COVID-19 in the last seven days (as of May 5, 2023), according to WHO, and across the world, from April 17 to April 24, 3,568 people lost their lives to COVID-19. Ghebreyesu also said that people are still being hospitalized for COVID-19, and some are dealing with long-COVID.

“This virus is here to stay. It’s still killing and it’s still changing,” he said. “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’s time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.”

COVID-19 was first named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2023.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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