Covid emergency is over but virus still a danger, says WHO

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Covid emergency is over but virus still a danger, says WHO

The Covid-19 pandemic, which for over three years has killed millions of people, wreaked economic havoc and deepened inequalities, no longer constitutes a global health emergency, the WHO said Friday.

It is "with great hope that I declare Covid-19 over as a global health emergency", WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, estimating that the pandemic had killed "at least 20 million" people -- nearly three times the under seven million deaths officially recorded.

The move came after the WHO's independent emergency committee on the Covid crisis agreed during its 15th meeting on Thursday that the crisis no longer merited the organisation's highest level of alert.

But, Tedros warned, the decision did not mean the danger was over, cautioning that the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changes.

"The worst thing any country could do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about," he said.

The UN health agency first declared the so-called public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) over the crisis on January 30, 2020.

That was just weeks after the mysterious new viral disease was first detected in China and when fewer than 100 cases and no deaths had been reported outside that country.

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