Fight against COVID-19 not over – Health Ministry

…as WHO announces COVID-19 no longer a global health emergency

The World Health Organisation has declared that the COVID-19 pandemic – which had devastating impacts for three years – is no longer a public health emergency but is still an ongoing health issue.
WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus transmitted this report after the Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic, deliberated on Thursday.
“The WHO Director General concurs with the advice offered by the Committee regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He determines that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC),” the Organisation stated.
During the deliberative session, the Committee members highlighted the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19-related hospitalisations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
The Committee’s position has been evolving over the last several months. While acknowledging the remaining uncertainties posed by potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2, they advised that it is time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They acknowledged that, although SARS-CoV-2 has been and will continue circulating widely and evolving, it is no longer an unusual or unexpected event. The Committee recognised that the Director General may decide to convene an IHR Emergency Committee on COVID-19 in the future if the situation requires.

Guyana’s Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony has since said that the country welcomes the announcement made by the WHO but reminded that the fight against COVID-19 is not over as the disease has not been eradicated.
He noted that over the last few months, Guyana has seen a significant decline in its COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths.
In a statement, he stated that the Ministry’s Surveillance Unit has reported that Guyana currently has eight (8) active cases. To date, the country has recorded 73,191 positive cases and 1298 deaths.
According to Dr Anthony, the public needs to still be mindful of the symptoms of COVID-19 and the impact this disease can have on one’s health, especially for those suffering from long COVID syndrome.
The Minister emphasised that COVID-19 vaccination is important in staying protected and preventing the severe form of the disease. He said the Ministry of Health will continue to administer vaccines across the ten (10) administrative regions to children, adolescents and adults.
The COVID-19 PHEIC has prompted countries to enhance their functional capacities, particularly related to emergency coordination, collaborative surveillance, clinical care, and risk communications and communication engagement.
Temporary recommendations issued by the WHO Director General to all states revolved around sustaining the national capacity gains and preparing for future events to avoid the occurrence of a cycle of panic and neglect.
“States Parties should consider how to improve country readiness for future outbreaks. In alignment with WHO guidance, States Parties should update respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness plans incorporating learnings from national and sub-national After-Action Reviews. States Parties should continue to restore health programmes adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement outlined.
It was also added that countries should maintain efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage for all people in the high-priority groups with WHO recommended vaccines and continue to actively address vaccine acceptance and demand issues with communities.
It also called for the reporting of mortality and morbidity data to be maintained as well as variant surveillance information to global entity; as well as continuing to work with communities and their leaders to achieve strong, resilient, and inclusive risk communications and community engagement.
Guyana first implemented the host of COVID-19 measures shortly after the first case was detected in the country on March 11, 2020. Over the past years, these restrictions have been amended – strengthened as well as completely removed – in order to fit the situation of the pandemic in Guyana.
However, vaccination for primary and booster shots have been ongoing, with the Health Ministry encouraging persons to stay up to date with immunity.
To date, over 73,000 infections have been recorded locally, with 1298 deaths.