WHO downgrades COVID pandemic, says it’s no longer emergency

Covid
FILE - People check their rapid COVID-19 test results outside of a testing site on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, on Dec. 21, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, marking a symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions of people worldwide.

The announcement, made more than three years after WHO declared the coronavirus an international crisis, offers some relief, if not an ending, to a pandemic that stirred fear and suspicion, hand-wringing and finger-pointing across the globe.

The U.N. health agency’s officials said that even though the emergency phase was over, the pandemic hasn’t finished, noting recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

WHO says thousands of people are still dying from the virus every week, and millions of others are suffering from debilitating, long-term effects.

“It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Tedros said the pandemic had been on a downward trend for more than a year, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to life before COVID-19.

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