The WHO Just Declared COVID-19 'Over' As A Global Health Emergency & Here's What's Next

The declaration was first issued in January 2020.

The World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Right: A doctor examining a patient for COVID-19.
Associate Editor

The World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Right: A doctor examining a patient for COVID-19.

COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, the World Health Organization announced at a press conference on Friday.

WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shared the news after the Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and made the recommendation about the declaration, which has been in effect for more than three years.

"It's with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency," Tedros said on Friday.

"That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat."

During the meeting, the committee discussed the "decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admission, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2," WHO said in a news release.

"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," Tedros said on Friday.

"This trend has allowed most countries to return to life as we knew it before."

The WHO's emergency committee first declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in January 2020.

More than 765 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic and more than 6.9 million people have died from it, the WHO says.

Tedros highlighted that even though 6.9 million deaths had been reported to the WHO, they know that number is much higher and closer to 20 million.

The pandemic has also caused lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.

At Friday's press conference, Tedros noted that the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency means countries need to transition from "emergency mode" and learn to manage the virus alongside other infectious diseases.

"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," he continued.

According to CNN, the U.S. is expected to end its COVID-19 public healthy emergency on May 11.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Asymina Kantorowicz
Associate Editor
Asymina Kantorowicz is an Associate Lifestyle Editor for Narcity Media focused on health and entertainment news and is based in Victoria, British Columbia.