Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern, the organisation’s Director-General has asserted that the disease is here to stay.
“This virus is here to stay. It is still killing, and it’s still changing,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated.
Tedros explained that the risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths.
On the 30th of January 2020, on the advice of an Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations, the WHO Chief declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of COVID-19.
It was the highest level of alarm under international law.
Tedros explained that in the three years following the emergency declaration COVID-19 has turned the world upside down.
He said the WHO received reports of 7 million deaths.
“But we know the toll is several times higher – at least 20 million,” Tedros said.
He asserted that COVID-19 has been more than a health crisis.
Tedros noted that the pandemic has caused severe economic upheaval, erasing trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, shuttering businesses, and plunging millions into poverty.
He warned that lifting the COVID-19 global health emergency does not mean the worldwide health threat is over.
“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,” the WHO Director-General said.
Instead, Tedros said it was time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases.