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."
Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization emergencies program, said that the novel coronavirus may become ‘another endemic virus in our communities’ and ‘may never go away’ https://reut.rs/2YZ2V21
1:45 AM - May 14, 2020
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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 a major step forward by finding a vaccine and making it widely accessible.
"It's a massive opportunity for the world," Ryan said.
A worker at a fish-processing factory in Ghana's Atlantic seafront city of Tema infected 533 other workers at the facility with the coronavirus, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a broadcast late on Sunday
Ghana's Health authorities reported the outbreak at the industrial facility late on Friday, but did not provide details.
"All 533 persons were infected by one person," President Akufo-Addo said. He did not provide details of how the diseasespread in the facility or if safety measures had been in place.
He said that the 533 positive cases, which represents around 11.3% of Ghana's total infections, were part of a backlog of about 921 cases going back as far as April 26 that are only recently being reported.
The new cases pushed Ghana's total since the pandemic was first reported in the West African nation in mid-March to 4,700 as of Sunday night, the highest number of infections in West Africa.
The president said 22 people have died of coronavirus-related causes, while 494 have recovered.
With 160,501 tests since the outbreak, Akufo-Addo said Ghana had carried out more tests per million people than any other country in Africa.
"The implementation of our strategy of aggressively tracing, testing and treating is our surest way of rooting out the virus," Akufo-Addo said.
He announced an extension of a ban on public gatherings until the end of May, and schools and universities will remain closed.
Akufo-Addo eased a three-week lockdown on Ghana's two main cities, Accra and Kumasi, on April 19 amid concerns over a prolonged lockdown on the economy.