The World Health Organisation (WHO) is maintaining its international health emergency declaration and highest level of alert for the Coronavirus pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Monday.
Although the pandemic situation has improved, Tedros said around 170,000 deaths related to COVID-19 around the world were reported to the WHO within the past eight weeks.
Health officials in many countries are monitoring the virus less closely, even though medical facilities remain overwhelmed in many places, Tedros said.
The decision to keep the WHO’s highest alert level was based on the recommendations of an expert advisory panel which found that the pandemic has probably reached a transition point, but remains a serious health threat.
The group warned that the transition phase must be managed carefully.
The advisory board was concerned about the pace of vaccinations worldwide, worrying particularly that not enough people in high-risk groups as well as too few residents of poorer countries have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“There is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future,” the experts said.
The advisers urged countries to put in place long-term action plans to prevent, monitor and control infections, and to remain vigilant even after the public health emergency has lifted.
When WHO first declared the Coronavirus health emergency on January 30, 2020, there were only about 100 known Covid infections in 20 countries outside of China and no reported deaths.
Around 665 million infections and more than 6.7 million deaths have now been reported worldwide, according to the global health authority.
The number of unreported cases is likely much higher.