Jan 30, 2023

By Jane Brown

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Three years after it was first declared a global health emergency, COVID-19 is still a global health emergency.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus made the decision Monday saying, “there is no doubt we’re in a far better situation now than a year ago when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.”

But Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus is warning that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the new coronavirus.

He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

Dr. Ghebreyesus also said he remains hopeful that in the coming year the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level.

At least in the near future, declaring an end to the “public health emergency of international concern” would not mean COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

It will also not do much to change Canada’s approach.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said last week the WHO discussion is important but COVID-19 monitoring and public health responses are not going to end.

She explained that includes continued surveillance of cases, particularly severe illness and death, and COVID vaccination campaigns.

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