WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization has declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency of international concern, which has been in place for over three years.

“It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, last week adding the end of the emergency did not mean COVID was over as a global health threat.

WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus, in a statement at a media briefing on May 5 said it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases. 

“I emphasize that this is not a snap decision. It is a decision that has been considered carefully for some time, 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 COVID-19 once again put our world in peril,” he added.

COVID-19 as public health emergency has been first declared more than three years ago, on Jan. 30, 2020.  

WHO said since then almost 7 million deaths have been reported to WHO, but believes that the toll is several times higher – at least 20 million. 

“But COVID-19 has been so much more than a health crisis.  It has caused severe economic upheaval, erasing trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, shuttering businesses, and plunging millions into poverty.”

“It has caused severe social upheaval, with borders closed, movement restricted, schools shut and millions of people experiencing loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and depression,“ WHO added. 

Last week, Palau’s Ministry of Health and Human Services (MHHS) stated in their latest directive that as of April 25, 2023, over 99% of Palau’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

And based on the uptake of the vaccine, MHHS has rescinded vaccine and testing entry requirements and “determined that Palau is well positioned to shift from the emergency nature of the response of the pandemic to long-term public health strategies.”

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