London’s prime physician is reminding the general public that COVID-19 continues to be an issue regardless of WHO’s announcement

London’s top doctor is reminding the public that COVID-19 is still a problem despite WHO’s announcement

It has been three years since Monday since the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, first declared COVID-19 a global health emergency.

Speaking at WHO’s annual board meeting, Tedros said, “There is no doubt that we are in a far better position now than we were a year ago” when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But after days of international decisions on the status of the pandemic, the WHO announced that COVID-19 remains a global health emergency.

On Monday, the advisory panel noted that the pandemic may be nearing a “tipping point” due to higher levels of immunity that could reduce the number of COVID-19-related deaths.

Three years after the virus was first declared a global emergency, many Canadians have returned to pre-pandemic life with no masks or restrictions in place in Ontario.

“COVID is still here and continues to impact the world,” said Dr. Alex Summers, Health Officer for the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

“The message from the WHO to keep vaccinating and keep watching for emerging variants is very important to us, including here in southwestern Ontario,” he said.

However, the severity of COVID-19 illness has shifted: “This is not a benign infection, this is not something to ignore, it is still worth avoiding contracting this virus,” Summers said.

Although the number of hospital admissions in Ontario has fallen after a recent spike, Peter Bergmanis of the London Health Coalition told CTV News London the health system is still under pressure.

“If there’s one thing we should have done, it’s to fund the hospital system adequately so that we don’t get into the kind of crisis that we’re in now,” Bergmanis said. “In hospitals and nursing homes, staff are still out with COVID and we’re not doing even the most basic things to prevent the spread.”

Tedros explained that there are still concerns about the impact of the virus: “Since early December we had reported an increase in deaths. Over the past eight weeks, more than 17,000 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19.”

In a statement, the WHO said, “The Committee recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic may be nearing a tipping point,” stating that higher levels of immunity from vaccination or infection may reduce the impact of COVID-19 on “morbidity and mortality” could limit.”

— With files from The Associated Press