While Covid-19 is no longer categorized as a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) reminded the public to learn from this health crisis and “change for the better.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reminded the people that Covid-19 is still a threat despite the lifting of its global health emergency status.
Ghebreyesus said that Covid-19 “has changed our world, and it has changed us.”
“That’s the way it should be. If we all go back to how things were before Covid-19, we will have failed to learn our lessons, and we will have failed future generations. This experience must change us all for the better,” said Ghebreyesus on Friday, May 5.
This viral disease “has left and continues to leave deep scars on our world,” said Ghebreyesus.
“Those scars must serve as a permanent reminder of the potential for new viruses to emerge, with devastating consequences,” he said.
“As a global community, the suffering we have endured, the painful lessons we have learned, the investments we have made and the capacities we have built must not go to waste,” he added.
Despite this positive development on Covid-19, it does not mean that countries should be complacent as the “virus is here to stay. It is still killing, and it’s still changing,” said Ghebreyesus.
“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.
“What this news means is that it is time for countries to transition from emergency mode to managing Covid-19 alongside other infectious diseases,” he added.
Pandemic not yet over, continue mitigation measures
Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante of San Lazaro Hospital in Manila said that the latest WHO decision is a welcome development. However, he reminded authorities to continue the measures against Covid-19 to further lessen its impact.
Solante said that the lifting of the public health emergency of international concern “doesn’t mean it’s the end of Covid.”
“There are still cases, there still death[s] related with Covid and its complications. Countries are advised to continue to make policies to protect the people, prevent surge and prevent death,” said Solante in a text message on Saturday, May 6.
“Current mitigating protocols and interventions should still continue such as testing, genomic surveillance, and health infrastructure preparedness. Vaccination should continue targeting vulnerable and most at-risk population,” he added.
The pandemic is not yet over, “just the emergency phase of it,” stressed infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the University of the Philippines Manila-National Institutes of Health (UP Manila-NIH).
"It means Covid-19 is still around, but its ability to hurt us is now much more tamed and predictable," Salvana said in a Facebook post.
"Extremely disruptive tools like lockdowns and forced quarantine which were necessary before widespread vaccination are no longer required. Case numbers (and positivity rates) are no longer predictive of risk to the healthcare system,” he added.
“Healthcare utilization is a much better measure of impact of the disease and is the only metric that should determine whether any more restrictions are necessary,” he furthered.