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WHO spokesman: Covid-19 may never be wiped out

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: WHO head of emergencies program, Dr Michael RyanNew - Indian Express

As nations around the world begin gradually lifting lockdown restrictions enacted to stem the spread of Covid-19, the World Health Organisation is warning that the virus may never be completely wiped out. The virus was first detected in Wuhan in China in December last year and has now infected more than 4.3 million people and killed nearly 300,000 worldwide.

The WHO’s emergencies director spoke at a media conference yesterday.

“We have a new virus entering the human population for the first time and therefore it is very hard to predict when we will prevail over it. This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away.”

“HIV has not gone away, but we have come to terms with the virus.”

More than half the world’s population has been put under some form of lockdown since the Covid-19 crisis began. But the WHO warns there’s no guarantee that easing restrictions won’t trigger a second wave of infections.

“Our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible.”

The WHO spokesman stressed that there is a “long, long way to go” on the path to returning to normal, emphasising that countries will “have to stay the course.”

“There is some magical thinking going on that lockdowns work perfectly and that unlocking lockdowns will go great. Both are fraught with dangers.”

He also condemned attacks on healthcare workers linked to the pandemic, saying more than 35 “quite serious” such incidents were recorded in April alone, in 11 countries. He said such attacks were often overreactions from ill-informed communities, though others were more sinister.

“Covid-19 is bringing out the best in us, but it’s also bringing out some of the worst. People feel empowered to take out their frustrations on individuals who are purely trying to help. These are senseless acts of violence and discrimination that must be resisted.”

But he insisted that, in finding a way to conquer the virus, there is a chance for humanity to take a major step forward, by finding a vaccine and making it widely accessible.

“It’s a massive opportunity for the world.”

SOURCE: AFP

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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