On 30 January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency.
Last week, almost three years down the line, the global health body said that the pandemic was no health emergency across the world from May 11.
While WHO declared “with great hope” an end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency, on a caution note it stressed that it does not mean the disease is no longer a global threat.
Given the lives consumed and deviation caused on various fronts including economic, the announcement naturally evoked a shared sigh of relief globally.
According to WHO’s Coronavirus Dashboard which has collated key statistics since early in the pandemic, the cumulative cases worldwide now stand at 765,222,932, with nearly seven million deaths: the precise figure currently stands at 6,921,614.
For over 12 months, the WHO noted that the pandemic has been on a downward trend with immunity increasing due to the highly effective vaccines developed in record time to fight the disease, and infections. Death rates decreased and the pressure on once overwhelmed health systems eased.
This trend, the WHO said, has allowed most countries to return to life as “we knew it before COVID-19.”
It needs no reiteration that the catastrophe unleashed by the spreading coronavirus, enveloping the globe in its fold in devastating waves, was unstoppable despite lockdowns and vaccines. The repeated waves of the pandemic were marked by overburdened and overwhelmed hospitals and other public facilities. It was horrifying to see patients gasping for breath and medicine. There was enormous damage inflicted on all aspects of global life by the virus, including enormous economic upheaval, erasing trillions from GDP, disrupting travel and trade, shuttering businesses, and plunging millions into poverty.
As noted by a doctors’ body it, “we have now entered into the endemic stage of Covid-19 and “It is yet another infection joining many other diseases that humanity has learned to live with.”
With the transition from pandemic to endemic stage, Covid is going to stay but will no longer be a disruptor of daily family and community life.
People need to learn to live with it responsibly; now people are well prepared, through the hard lessons the pandemic has taught everyone. At every level, be local, national and global, none should let their guard down.
As rightly pointed out by the WHO chief that at one level, the end of the emergency was a moment to celebrate, and there is need to remember and pay tribute to the “incredible skill and selfless dedication of health and care workers” worldwide.