WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. –
THE World Health Organization (WHO) director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has declared that covid19 is no longer a global health emergency. However, he warned that the virus remains a global health threat.
Speaking at a media conference on Friday, he said the initial public health emergency of international concern (pandemic) was declared on January 30, 2020, on the advice of an emergency committee convened under the International Health Regulations.
“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 covid19. Yesterday, the International Health Regulations (2005) 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 covid19 over as a global health emergency,” Ghebreyesus said.
Dr Tedros noted that the declaration did not mean covid was over as a global health threat, as the virus claimed a life every three minutes last week, “and that’s just the deaths we know about.
“As we speak, thousands around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units. And millions more continue to live with the debilitating effects of post-covid19 infection. This virus is here to stay. It is still killing and it is 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 covid19 is nothing to worry about. This news means it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing covid19 alongside other infectious diseases.”
Tedros said the decision was not made quickly, but had been considered carefully, 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 #COVID19 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.”
The WHO director general said he would be invoking a never-before-used provision of the international health regulations to establish a review committee to develop long-term, standing recommendations for countries on how to manage covid19 on an ongoing basis.
He said in addition, this week the WHO had published the 4th edition of the Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for covid19, which outlines critical actions for countries in five core areas: collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures, and emergency coordination.
In a release, the Health Ministry said it noted the decision of the WHO, which determined that covid19 is now an established and ongoing health issue.
“In TT, covid19 continues to circulate at a very low level. Transmission continues to be classified as community in nature. Morbidity and mortality from covid19 have been on downward trends, in keeping with the global epidemiology picture over the last few months.”
The ministry urged people to continue to follow the public health measures, unvaccinated people to get vaccinated, and vaccinated people to get boosted.
“The Ministry of Health takes the opportunity to remind the public, particularly the vulnerable amongst us (those with chronic diseases, pregnant patients and the unvaccinated) to continue to maintain the principles and practice of good hygiene, such as hand washing, social distancing and wearing of masks where appropriate.”
It reminded the public that the current vaccine stock expires in June 2023, and vaccines are available at all health centres throughout TT.
“These measures will certainly assist in the maintenance of our low levels of transmission of covid19 and other infectious diseases.”
The US administration said it will end covid19 vaccine requirements for international air travellers on May 11. In a release, it said,
“Starting May 12, non-citizen non-immigrant air passengers will no longer need to show proof of being fully vaccinated with an accepted covid19 vaccine to board a flight to the US.
“The CDC’s amended order implementing presidential proclamation on safe resumption of global travel during the covid-19 pandemic will no longer be in effect when the presidential proclamation advancing the safe resumption of global travel during the covid19 pandemic is revoked.”