The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced on Friday in Geneva that the highest alert level that can be imposed in the event of a threat has been lifted. “The pandemic has been following a declining trend for a year,” said Tedros, referring to increased immunity from vaccinations and infections. According to the WHO, at least 20 million people have died worldwide.
“This virus will stay”
The decision does not have any concrete effects because each country determines for itself which protective measures it imposes. The lifting of the state of health does not mean that Covid-19 “is over as a global health threat,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference. He reported that Covid-19 had claimed one death every three minutes for the past week and that these were only the deaths known to exist. “This virus is here to stay. It’s still killing and it’s continuing to change. There is still a risk that new variants will emerge, leading to new increases in cases and deaths,” warned the WHO Director-General. The end of the state of health should not mean that states are no longer vigilant.
Less severe gradients
Nevertheless, the WHO followed the recommendation of an independent expert committee because it is convinced that the world has good tools to protect people from the virus. In addition to vaccines and medication, this also includes protective measures such as wearing masks or keeping your distance in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. According to an analysis, the UN vaccination program Covax alone saved 2.7 million lives in low-income countries by the end of 2022 through corona vaccinations.
According to WHO statistics, significantly fewer people are experiencing a severe course of the disease Covid-19 than at the beginning of the pandemic, when vaccines and medicines were not yet available. Nevertheless, from April 3 to 30 of this year alone, almost 2.8 million new infections and over 17,000 deaths were reported to the WHO. However, since there is hardly any testing in many countries, this is not considered an accurate picture of the situation.
Three years and three months of health emergency
When the WHO declared the corona health emergency on January 30, 2020, around 100 infections were known in around 20 countries outside of China and no deaths. According to the WHO, around 765 million infections and a good 6.9 million deaths have now been officially reported worldwide. Experts assume that the number of unreported cases is much higher. Among other things, causes of death are not assigned correctly everywhere. According to the head of the WHO, the corona pandemic has killed at least 20 million people worldwide.
More than 22,000 Covid deaths in Austria
In Austria there have been 22,412 confirmed fatalities since the pandemic began more than three years ago. According to AGES, an average of 544 infections were detected every day in the past week. 298 patients were in the hospital on Friday morning. The obligation to report a corona infection ends at the end of June. The traffic restrictions currently in force for people who have tested positive will then also expire. Although infected people do not currently have to be quarantined, they are obliged to wear an FFP2 mask indoors and outdoors when in close contact with other people.
Only on Monday, May 1st did some of the still existing corona rules end in Austria. The mask requirement in vulnerable areas such as hospitals, old people’s and nursing homes and in doctor’s offices has been history since this week. The so-called risk group exemption also expired.