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    What Does it Mean that WHO has Declared the End of Covid Emergency?

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    The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic is no longer a global emergency. The declaration was first made on January 30, 2020, when the disease had not even been named Covid-19 and when there were no major outbreaks beyond China. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic has been “on a downward trend for more than a year, with population immunity increasing from vaccination and infection.”

    The classification of a health threat as a global emergency is meant to warn political authorities that there is an “extraordinary” event that could constitute a health threat to other countries and requires a coordinated response to contain it. For the average person, the decision doesn’t change anything. The emergency declarations are typically used as an international SOS for countries who need help. They can also spur countries to introduce special measures to combat disease or release extra funds.

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    Although WHO chief Tedros said the coronavirus emergency was over, he warned that the virus is here to stay and that thousands of people continue to die every week. “The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths,” Tedros said. “What this news means is that it’s time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing Covid-19 alongside other infectious diseases.”

    Health officials say the virus isn’t going anywhere and advise people to get vaccinated, including getting booster doses if they qualify. Although many of the measures seen at the height of the pandemic — including masks and social distancing — aren’t required except in certain settings, like hospitals or nursing homes, officials say people with other health conditions or compromised immune systems may still want to continue with some of those precautions.

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