The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
At the fifteenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, held on Thursday 4 May 2023, based on the information provided on the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, determined that “COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a PHEIC.”
The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern in January 2020. The TCI reported its first case of COVID-19 on 23rd March 2020. To date the TCI has reported a total of 6588 COVID-19 cases and sadly 38 deaths locally.
Minister of Health Hon. Shaun Malcolm, commenting on the news, stated: “The TCI, in recognizing the declining number of tests and positive cases being identified locally, the reduction in hospitalisations with COVID-19 as well as the successful roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination and booster programme, has dropped all of its COVID-19 measures with the requirement for travelers to be fully vaccinated being removed on April 1 2023”.
The Ministry of Health noted that although declaration by the WHO was a significant milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, it will continue to make available COVID-19 tests at its National Public Health Laboratory as well as continue surveillance of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 will remain in circulation and will likely continue to evolve and will need long term monitoring and plans to address it at the local and international level. The gains made during the pandemic as well as lessons learned will continue to be incorporated in order to strengthen preparedness and response to future outbreaks,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
It further noted: “In line with the Emergency Committees recommendations, the Ministry of Health will continue to strengthen its health systems, continue active risk communications and community engagement, implement a One Health approach to preparedness and response, and integrate COVID-19 surveillance and response activities into routine health programmes.”