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WHO warns, “Make no mistake: We have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time”

Thursday, April 23rd 2020 - 09:01 UTC
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As some countries move to lift lockdown restrictions that have upended daily life around, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a sober warning As some countries move to lift lockdown restrictions that have upended daily life around, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a sober warning

World Health Organization on Wednesday warned that the coronavirus crisis would not end any time soon, with many countries only in the early stages of the fight, as the global death toll surpassed 180,000.

The pandemic has sparked not only a health emergency, but a global economic rout, with businesses struggling to survive, millions left jobless, and millions more facing starvation.

Health experts in the world's biggest economy warned it could face an even deadlier second coronavirus wave come winter, as some US states moved to reopen select businesses.

Nations around the world have been scrambling to fight the pandemic - which has killed more than 180,000 people and infected nearly 2.6 million worldwide - while desperately seeking ways to limit the devastating economic fallout.

As some countries have moved to lift lockdown restrictions that have upended daily life around the globe, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a sober warning.

“Make no mistake: We have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time,” Tedros told a virtual press conference. “Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics. And some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.”

Worst-hit region Europe saw its death toll climb to another grim milestone of 110,000, while fatalities in Italy, the hardest hit country behind the United States, topped 25,000.

In Spain, which reported a slight increase for the second day running in the number of Covid-19 deaths, the government said it did not expect to lift its strict lockdown until mid-May. “We must be incredibly careful in this phase,” President Pedro Sanchez said.

But Germany, which has cautiously begun allowing shops to reopen, offered another glimmer of hope when it announced that human trials for a vaccine will start by next week. The trial, only the fifth to have been authorized worldwide, is a “significant step” in making a vaccine “available as soon as possible”, the country's regulatory body said.

With several months to go before a viable vaccine can be rolled out, more than half of humanity remains under some form of lockdown.

With businesses shuttered and millions of jobs lost, the UN's World Food Program (WFP) said the virus crisis would hit the least privileged the hardest.

The WFP said the number of people suffering from acute hunger was projected to nearly double to 265 million this year.

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