Coronavirus 'may never go away', WHO warns

14 May 2020, 10:07 | Updated: 14 May 2020, 10:22

Coronavirus may never go away, the WHO has warned
Coronavirus may never go away, the WHO has warned. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The World Health Organisation has said coronavirus "may never go away", and warned against trying to predict how long it will be in circulation.

WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said on Wednesday that Covid-19 could become another endemic, and be permanently in society.

The virus has so far killed almost 300,000 people around the globe, and 4.3 million have been confirmed to have the virus.

Mr Ryan said: "It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away.

"I think it is important we are realistic and I don't think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear.

"I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be."

Meanwhile, Dr Hans Kluge, World Health Organisation regional director for Europe, said the UK remained among the top 10 countries around the world reporting the highest number of coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

During a virtual WHO briefing he said: "Across the European region we're seeing an overall slowing of the pandemic.

"But this remains a time of sorrow for many."

Dr Kluge, during the WHO Europe briefing, said: "We each have a role to play in keeping the virus at bay.

"We are now at a fork in the road - where our actions and individual behaviour determines which path we follow."

But he cautioned: "Emergency fatigue threatens precious gains we have made against this virus.

"Reports of distrust in authorities and conspiracy thinking are fuelling movements against physical distancing, other people are behaving over-cautiously.

"Our behaviour today will set the course for the pandemic. As governments lift restrictions, you, the people, are the main actors."

Coronavirus has shut down most of the globe
Coronavirus has shut down most of the globe. Picture: PA

It is hoped a vaccine may be found for the virus, and over 100 potential vaccines are being developed by scientists around around the world.

But Mr Ryan said the chances of a successful vaccine being found was a "massive moonshot", and pointed out that even with a vaccine, diseases such as measles have yet to be eradicated.

He also said that a "massive effort" was needed from governments to gain control over the virus and the spread of it.

But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave some light to the situation and said it was possible to gain control with effort.

He said: "The trajectory is in our hands, and it's everybody's business, and we should all contribute to stop this pandemic."

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