Covid-19 threat expected to become on par with flu this year, says WHO
The World Health Organization is considering downgrading covid-19 from a public health emergency of international concern, its highest level of alert, as the coronavirus is now less likely to cause serious illness or overload healthcare services
By Clare Wilson
17 March 2023
Covid-19 is likely to be downgraded from a public health emergency of international concern this year, as it shifts to a similar level of risk as flu, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We’re coming to that point where we can look at covid-19 in the same way we look at seasonal influenza,” said the WHO’s Michael Ryan at a press conference today. “A threat to health, a virus that will continue to kill. But a virus that is not disrupting our society or disrupting our hospital systems.”
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement at the press conference. “We’re certainly in a much better position now than we have been at any time during the pandemic,” he said.
The WHO declared covid-19 a public health emergency of international concern, its highest level of threat, in January 2020, after coronavirus cases had been steadily rising in China and had been confirmed in 18 other countries.