The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday that the Covid-19 pandemic will remain classed as a public health emergency of international concern.

The decision was made following the recommendations of an independent expert committee. The state of emergency has been in effect since the end of January 2020.

The declaration of an emergency is the highest alert level that the WHO can impose.

“The pandemic is not over yet,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The emergency status level does not automatically lead to special conditions, rather the WHO uses it to alert governments and the public of an acute threat that they must prepare for accordingly.

Whether and what restrictions authorities impose is decided by individual governments.

Vaccines and treatment for Covid-19 mean the world is better equipped to handle the pandemic than when the virus first appeared in China in late 2019. Severe cases of the Covid-19 disease have become significantly rarer.

However, the virus continues to spread and the number of Covid-19 cases across the world is rising again.

So far, around 620 million Covid infections and 6.5 million deaths have been reported to the WHO globally. However, the number of unreported cases is likely much higher given that less testing is being carried out and causes of death are not always recorded correctly.

The WHO also declared a health emergency in July in the face of an increasing number of monkeypox cases. Similarly, a polio emergency has been in place since 2014.

Source: dpa/MIA