The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the WHO's highest alert level.
The announcement came amid the recent increase of weekly reported deaths worldwide. After its quarterly assessment meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, the WHO's International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee announced on Monday that COVID-19 continues to constitute a PHEIC, which has been concurred by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
COVID-19 remains a dangerous infectious disease with the capacity to cause substantial damage to health systems, the committee said in a statement, while acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching an inflection point.
Although infection or vaccination may lead to higher levels of population immunity globally and limit the impact of morbidity and mortality, "there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future," the committee said.
It then called for long-term public health action that will prioritize the mitigation of COVID-19 impact on morbidity and mortality.
Meanwhile, the committee recommends that countries should achieve 100 percent vaccination coverage of high-priority groups, improve reporting of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance data to the WHO, and ensure long-term availability of medical countermeasures, such as COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.