'Coronavirus pandemic could last for another two years' - WHO chief
Speaking on Friday the Director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus compared the virus to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which took “two years to stop”.
The WHO has always been cautious about giving an estimate on how quickly the pandemic can be dealt with while there is no proven vaccine.
But on Friday WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the globalisation allowed the virus to spread quicker than the Spanish flu did in 1918.
He added that the world now has the technology to stop it, which wasn’t around 102 years ago.
"And in our situation now with more technology, and of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast because we are more connected now," he told a briefing in Geneva.
“But at the same time, we also have the technology to stop it and the knowledge to stop it. “We hope to finish this pandemic in less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts.”
Tedros urged countries to engage in “national unity” and “global solidarity”. "That is really key with utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like a vaccine,” he added.
WHO's emergency chief Dr Michael Ryan noted the 1918 pandemic hit the globe in three distinct waves; the second wave which began during the fall of 1918 was the most devastating.
Cases are rising across Europe. Spain registered 66,905 new cases in the past two weeks. France and Germany also witnessed substantial increases within the past two months.
“This virus is not displaying a similar wave-like pattern," he said. “When the virus is not under control, it jumps straight back up.” Ryan added that while pandemic viruses often settle into a seasonal pattern, that didn't appear to be the case for the Covid-19.
More than 22.81 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally since it was first identified in China last year and 793,382 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
The United States leads the world with 5.6 million confirmed cases and more than 174,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, Britain's coronavirus outbreak shrank again as the average number of people testing positive for the deadly disease dropped to below 1,000 for the first time in a week.
Doctors say the rise in cases is largely down to younger people becoming infected. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said the Balkans region is a “hotspot” for Covid-19 amid mounting speculation that Croatia could be added to the UK’s quarantine travel list.
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The WHO said the Balkans has been a “concern of ours since early June” because of an increase in case numbers as it urged the region to impose additional measures to “nip transmission in the bud”.
Dr Catherine Smallwood told a WHO press conference: “The situation in the Balkans has been a concern of ours since early June when we started to see cases increase and it's been very much a sub-regional hotspot over the summer period.”
This comes as France, Spain and Germany all reported their highest cases of coronavirus in months.
The new figures have been raising concerns about a second wave that could be hitting the continent.
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