Three years after the COVID-19 virus claimed millions of lives and left almost just as many people without jobs and filled with uncertainty, the World Health Organization announced that the threat is no longer classified as a public health emergency on an international scale.

This morning (May 5), WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted, “Yesterday (May 4), the [hashtag] COVID-19 Emergency Committee met for the 15th time and recommended to me that I declare an end to the public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted that advice. With great hope, I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency.” He also spoke at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland to share more details.

Ghebreyesus reminded the public that his declaration does “not mean that COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.” Citizens must still take precautions because “Last week COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes. And that’s just the deaths we know about,” the director-general noted. He added, “I emphasize that this is not a snap decision. It is a decision that has been considered carefully for some time, planned for, and made on the basis of a careful analysis of the data.” Although Ghebreyesus has given the “okay” for restrictions to ease, individual countries will still follow their own protocols. According to The Washington Post, United States President Joe Biden is expected to end America’s pandemic public health emergency status next Thursday (May 11).

“Today (May 1), we are announcing that the administration will end the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal employees, federal contractors, and international air travelers at the end of the day on May 11, the same day that the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. Additionally, HHS and DHS announced today that they will start the process to end their vaccination requirements for Head Start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities, and certain noncitizens at the land border. In the coming days, further details related to ending these requirements will be provided,” the White House said in a statement earlier this week.