The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the long-awaited end of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, they write that the COVID-19 pandemic no longer qualifies as a global health emergency. However, this does not mean that the pandemic is over, warns WHO, adding that thousands of people are still dying from the SARS-CoV-2 virus every week. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
"With great hope, I declare that COVID-19 has ended as a global health emergency. This does not mean that COVID-19 has ended as a global health threat," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that he would not hesitate to convene experts again to re-assess the situation if COVID-19 "puts our world in danger."
Tedros said the pandemic has been on a downward trend for over a year, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to life as it was before the COVID-19 illness.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has killed at least seven million people worldwide. About five billion people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
WHO on Friday decided to lower the highest alert level, after convening an expert group on Thursday. The UN agency does not actually "declare" pandemics, but first used that term to describe the outbreak in March 2020 when the virus had spread to all continents except Antarctica, long after many other scientists had said the pandemic was already underway.