The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an end to Covid-19 as a “global health emergency”.
The statement comes three years after the UN health agency first declared its highest level of alert over the virus.
“What this news means is that it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing Covid-19 alongside other infectious diseases,” Dr Tedros Adhanom, WHO director general, told reporters Friday.
Nearly seven million people died in the pandemic, as per WHO.
More than 765 million confirmed Covid infections have been recorded worldwide.
For over 12 months, the pandemic “has been on a downward trend”, he said, with immunity increasing due to the vaccines developed to fight the virus. More than 13.3 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, according to the WHO
Dr Tedros warned that the virus remained a significant health threat.
“Last week, Covid claimed a life every three minutes – and that’s just the deaths we know about,” he told reporters.
“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 said.
The emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed, he added.
The WHO first declared Covid-19 to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in January 2020.
This signaled the need for coordinated global action to protect people from the new virus.
It will now be up to individual countries to continue to manage Covid in the way they think best.