World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday ended the worldwide COVID-19 public health emergency, but warned that the disease is still a threat and nations shouldn't let their guard down. Photo courtesy of World Health Organization
May 5 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization on Friday declared an end to the global COVID-19 public health emergency, but urged nations not to let their guard down because the disease is still a global health threat.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he took on the advice of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee regarding COVID-19 and determined the virus is "now an established and ongoing health issue, which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern."
"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," Tedros said.
He emphasized, however, that the declaration does not mean that COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.
"As we speak, thousands of people around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units," Tedros said. "And millions more continue to live with the debilitating effects of post-COVID-19 condition."
Last week, he said COVID-19 worldwide claimed a life every three minutes, noting those represent "just the deaths we know about."
"The worst thing any nation can do right now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send a message to its people that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about," Tedros said.
On advice from WHO's Emergency Committee, he has decided to use a provision in international health regulations that has never been used before to establish a review committee to "develop long-term, standing recommendations for countries on how to manage COVID-19 on an ongoing basis."
The announcement comes after U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill to end the national emergency to respond to COVID-19 in April, weeks before it was set to expire. A separate COVID-19 public health emergency ends Thursday.