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coronavirus

Is Covid-19 here to stay?

Mike Ryan (l), WHO's emergencies director and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebereyesus (r) in Geneva. 6/2/2020.
Mike Ryan (l), WHO's emergencies director and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebereyesus (r) in Geneva. 6/2/2020. REUTERS/Denis
Text by: Agencies
4 min

The coronavirus may never go away and populations will have to learn to live with it just as they have HIV, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, as the global death toll was poised about to cross the 300,000 mark.

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Currently, over one hundred laboratories and universities are working around the clock to develop a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the WHO said the virus may never be wiped out entirely.

"This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away," said Michael Ryan, the global health body's emergencies director in Geneva.

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

The uncertainty surrounding the virus have governments world-wide split about policies aimed at protect the health of their populations and measures to salvage the economy – risked to be wrecked by too many protective restrictions.

Not acceptable

In the US, President Donald Trump, facing elections in November, has been pushing for a swift resumption of economic activity, often going against the advice of health officials.

Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has said re-opening too soon risks triggering uncontrollable outbreaks, but the president Wednesday dismissed that call for caution as "not acceptable".

The United States logged more than 1,800 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the nation's total to 84,059.

On the set of Australian soap Neighbours as the team navigate social distancing rules
On the set of Australian soap Neighbours as the team navigate social distancing rules FREMANTLE/AFP

Meanwhile, Australia released figures showing almost 600,000 people lost their jobs as the country's virus shutdown took hold in April, the steepest monthly drop in employment since records began more than 40 years ago.

Restart of travel

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the number "terribly shocking".

And in Europe, re-opening of economies continued in earnest across Europe, with officials pushing ahead with plans to restore summer tourism even as fears persist of a second wave of infections.

Desperate to save millions of jobs, the European Union set out proposals for a phased restart of travel, with border controls to be eventually lifted, along with measures to minimise transmission.

Some beaches re-opened in France on Wednesday -- but only for swimming and fishing -- and people in England were allowed to leave their homes more freely.

Officials opened some beaches on the west coast of France, but not for static activity such as picnic parties or sunbathing
Officials opened some beaches on the west coast of France, but not for static activity such as picnic parties or sunbathing AFP

Leap in cases

The return to normality also gathered pace in Asia with Japan set to lift a state of emergency, though not yet in the capital Tokyo and other major cities.

With infections sharply down, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to ease curbs in up to 39 of the country's 47 prefectures.

However, in Latin America the virus continued to surge, with a 60 percent leap in cases in the Chilean capital of Santiago, prompting authorities to impose a total lockdown on the city.

In Argentina, officials were watching Buenos Aires warily after one of its poorest and most densely populated neighbourhoods showed a spike in infections.

(with wires)

 

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