The Department of Health (DOH) says it has noted the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
However the DOH says that it is important to clarify that this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over.
The Department, in line with WHO recommendations, continues to recommend vaccination especially for high routine health services, and will continue to offer services aimed at preventing and treating COVID-19.
The Department’s Spokesperson Foster Mohale says, “The health department welcomes the announcement on COVID-19. The Department of Health has noted an announcement by the World Health Organisation that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.”
“However, it is important to clarify that this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. The fact of the matter is, the pandemic remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality especially in high risk populations such as the elderly and people living with comorbidities. The number of cases is far lower at the current moment than during the height of the pandemic, hence it is no longer viewed as a public health emergency,” says Mohale.
WHO experts downgrade COVID-19 pandemic emergency status:
WHO ended the global emergency status for COVID-19 on Friday, more than three years after its original declaration, and said countries should now manage the virus that killed more than 6.9 million people along with other infectious diseases.
The global health agency’s Emergency Committee met on Thursday and recommended the UN organisation declare an end to the coronavirus crisis as a “public health emergency of international concern,” its highest level of alert which has been in place since January 30, 2020.
“It is therefore with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that the end of the emergency did not mean COVID was over as a global health threat.
During a lengthy conference call to brief the press on the decision, some WHO members became emotional as they urged countries to reflect on lessons learned during the pandemic.