The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that Covid-19 is no longer a “global health emergency”. The WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee took the decision at its 15th meeting on Covid-19 on Thursday, May 4.
Speaking at a conference on Friday, May 5, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he concurs that the public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, declaration should end.
“For more than a year the pandemic has been on a downward trend. This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before Covid-19,” Tedros said. “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.” he said
In January 2020, the organisation declared the Coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, about six weeks before classifying it as a pandemic. The United States’ Covid-19 public health emergency is set to end on May 11.
According to WHO data, there have been over 765 million confirmed Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. Almost 7 million people have been killed. Although Europe has had the most confirmed cases, the Americas have reported the most deaths. In the United States, approximately one in every six deaths occurred.
The statement is a significant step towards ending the pandemic and comes three years after it first declared the virus to be at the highest level of alert.
The virus’s death rate had dropped from more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on April 24, according to officials.
According to the WHO’s director-general, at least seven million people died as a result of the Emergency.
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’s therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” Dr Tedros said.