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05th May 2023

Covid no longer a global health emergency, World Health Organisation says

Steve Hopkins

‘That does not mean Covid-19 is over as a global health threat’

The Covid pandemic is over, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The health emergency was declared on 11 March 2020, triggering lockdowns and travel restrictions across the globe and causing six million covid-related deaths worldwide. As of Thursday, 225,081 in the UK, according to government figures.

“It’s with great hope that I declare Covid-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“That does not mean Covid-19 is over as a global health threat.”

“Covid-19 has changed our world and it has changed us,” he said, warning that the risk of new variants still remained.

WHO made its decision to lower its highest level of alert after convening an expert group on Thursday, and after having said, in May last year, that the end of the pandemic was “in sight”.

Last month the NHS Covid app was switched off and will be discontinued completely on 16 May.

Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic had been on a downward trend for more than a year, and noted most countries had already returned to pre-covid life.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the WHO boss highlighted the damage covid had done to the global community and economy, closing businesses and plunging millions into poverty.

The UN agency doesn’t “declare” pandemics, but first used the term to describe the outbreak in March 2020.

In April, the Office for National Statistics said that Covid was no longer a top leading cause of death in England and Wales.

About five billion people globally received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.

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