Avatar photo

By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Covid-19: SA urged to remain vigilant following WHO’s global emergency lift

The national health department acknowledged the World Health Organization's declaration that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency.

Yesterday, World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Covid-19 is no longer considered a global health emergency.

However, he emphasised the virus remains a global health threat and is here to stay.

Covid pandemic update

The national department of health has welcomed this announcement but is cautioning South Africans that the pandemic is far from over.

Health department spokesperson Foster Mohale said: “It is important to clarify that this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over”.

SA’s continued vigilance

Mohale said the health department noted the WHO’s announcement but is urging South Africans to remain vigilant.

Even though the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa is lower now than at the pandemic’s peak, the virus remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality.

This is especially a concern among high-risk populations in South Africa, such as the elderly and those with co-morbidities.

In line with WHO recommendations, the department says it will continue to promote vaccination, particularly for high-risk populations.

Covid-19 threat

Covid claimed nearly 7 million lives worldwide, while the WHO estimates the actual death toll is likely closer to 20 million.

On Friday, Dr Tedros also highlighted the severe economic and social upheaval the pandemic has caused globally and the inequalities it has exposed.

The WHO’s decision to lift the emergency status comes after observing a downward trend in the pandemic for over a year.

Researchers looked at increased population immunity due to vaccination and infection, decreased mortality rates, and reduced pressure on health systems.

Covid-19 response plan

Meanwhile, Dr Tedros established a Review Committee to develop long-term recommendations for countries on how to manage Covid-19 on an ongoing basis.

This plan outlines critical actions for countries in five core areas:

  • collaborative surveillance,
  • community protection,
  • safe and scalable care,
  • access to countermeasures,
  • emergency coordination.

Additionally, the WHO also published the fourth edition of the Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for Covid-19.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits