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WHO Declares COVID a Global Emergency

“WHO Declares COVID a Global Emergency”

Nearly 40,000 COVID weekly deaths were reported in mid-January.

Three years to the day after issuing the highest level of global alert for COVID-19, the World Health Organization said Monday that the pandemic remains an international emergency.

Last Friday, the UN health agency’s emergency committee on COVID-19 met for the 14th time since the crisis began.

Following that meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “concurs with the committee’s advice regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and determines that the event continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC),” according to a statement from the organization.

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According to the statement, Tedros “acknowledges the committee’s views that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely at a transition point and appreciates the committee’s advice to navigate this transition carefully and mitigate the potential negative consequences.”

Even before the meeting, the WHO chief had suggested the emergency phase of the pandemic is not over, pointing to surging numbers of deaths and warning that the global response to the crisis “remains hobbled”.

“As we enter the fourth year of the pandemic, we are certainly in a much better position than we were a year ago when the Omicron wave was at its peak and more than 70,000 deaths were being reported to WHO each week,” he told the committee at the start of the meeting on Friday.

Tedros stated that the weekly death rate had fallen below 10,000 in October but had begun to rise again since the beginning of December, while the lifting of COVID restrictions in China had increased deaths.

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In mid-January, nearly 40,000 COVID weekly deaths were reported, with more than half of them occurring in China, while the true toll “is almost certainly much higher,” he added.

On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared a PHEIC after what was then known as the novel coronavirus began to spread outside of China.

Though declaring a PHEIC is an internationally agreed-upon mechanism for triggering a global response to such outbreaks, many countries only realized the danger after Tedros described the worsening COVID situation as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

More than 752 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the WHO globally, including more than 6.8 million deaths, though the UN’s health agency always emphasizes that the true numbers are likely much higher.