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WHO: Coronavirus may never go away
This handout file illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first US case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV, with the spherical viral particles, colorized blue, containing cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots. US authorities warned healthcare and scientific researchers May 13, 2020 that Chinese-backed hackers were attempting to steal research and intellectual property related to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. Organizations researching the disease were warned of "likely targeting and network compromise by the People's Republic of China," a statement from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said."China's efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nations response to COVID-19," they said.
AFP/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Handout

WHO: Coronavirus may never go away

Robin Millard (Agence France-Presse) - May 14, 2020 - 7:50am

GENEVA, Switzerland — The new coronavirus may never go away and populations around the world will have to learn to live with it, the World Health Organization warned Wednesday.

As some countries around the world begin gradually easing lockdown restrictions imposed in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, the WHO said it may never be wiped out entirely. 

The virus first emerged in Wuhan in China late last year and has since infected more than 4.2 million people and killed nearly 300,000 worldwide.

"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," said Michael Ryan, the WHO's emergencies director.

"This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away," he told a virtual press conference in Geneva.

"HIV has not gone away — but we have come to terms with the virus."

More than half of humanity has been put under some form of lockdown since the coronavirus crisis began.

But the WHO warned there was no way to guarantee that easing the restrictions would not trigger a second wave of infections.

"Many countries would like to get out of the different measures," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"But our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible."

'Long way to go'

Ryan added that there was a "long, long way to go" on the path to returning to normal, insisting that countries would 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," the Irish epidemiologist said.

Ryan also condemned attacks on healthcare workers that were linked to the pandemic, saying more than 35 "quite serious" such incidents were recorded in April alone in 11 countries.

He said the attacks were often over-reactions from ill-informed communities — while others were more sinister.

"COVID-19 is bringing out the best in us, but it's also bringing out some of the worst," he said.

"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 was a chance for humanity to take major step forward by finding a vaccine and making it widely accessible.

"It's a massive opportunity for the world," Ryan said.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 5, 2021 - 6:05pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

August 5, 2021 - 6:05pm

France will offer COVID-19 booster shots to the elderly and vulnerable from September, joining a growing list of countries offering third vaccine shots to fight new virus variants, President Emmanuel Macron says.

"Yes, we will probably need a third dose, not for everyone straight away but at any rate for the elderly and the most vulnerable," Macron says in his latest in a series of explanatory videos on the government's vaccination drive, adding that it would start in September. — AFP

August 5, 2021 - 11:45am

C.S. Satheesha spells out "A-P-P-L-E" into his phone as he teaches remotely from the only place he can get a signal -- a treehouse in his back garden in southern India.

In the Kodagu district of Karnataka state, eight-year-old Shreeshma listens to Satheesha's WhatsApp voice notes on her mother's phone on her porch and repeats sentences such as: "This is a cat."

But in a country where schools have been shut for over a year, one of the longest shutdowns in the world, she and her fellow pupils are among the lucky ones.

According to UNICEF, only one in four children in India has access to digital devices and the internet.

Many families have sold belongings or taken out loans to buy smartphones for their children to continue their education.

In some rural areas, kids have been trekking miles up hills and through snake-infested jungles to try and connect to their teachers. — AFP

August 4, 2021 - 7:26pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 4,247,231 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1000 GMT on Wednesday.

At least 199,520,860 cases of coronavirus have been registered. 

The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later. — AFP

August 4, 2021 - 9:23am

New York will become the first major US city to require proof of vaccination for people attending indoor venues such as restaurants, gyms and shows, under a plan announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday.

The announcement comes as public bodies and private businesses in the United States step up vaccine requirements as the country battles the highly infectious Delta variant.

"If you're vaccinated... you have the key, you can open the door. But if you're unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things," de Blasio told a press conference. — AFP

August 4, 2021 - 7:44am

Health officials in France on Tuesday activated an emergency plan on the Mediterranean island of Corsica as a fourth wave of COVID infections spread across the country.

The government also announced it was reactivating a package of measures designed to support medical staff as they brace for a fresh intake of cases.

More of France's popular coastal areas meanwhile reintroduced the compulsory wearing of masks in a bid to stem the incoming coronavirus tide. — AFP

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