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FILE PHOTO: Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom speaks during a news conference in Geneva FILE PHOTO: Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom speaks during a news conference in Geneva  (REUTERS)

COVID-19: WHO says road to normality will be long

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that there might never be a “silver bullet” for COVID-19 in the form of a perfect vaccine and that the road to normality would be long. The warning came as a number of European nations reported an uptick in the number of cases after weeks of declining infections.

By Susy Hodges

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has implored nations around the world to rigorously enforce health measures against the coronavirus such as mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and testing.

Speaking at a virtual news conference, Tedros said “the message to people and governments is clear: ‘Do it all’,” He said face masks should become a symbol of solidarity round the world.

No "silver bullet"

The WHO Head said “a number of vaccines were now in Phase Three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.” But he warned “there’s no silver bullet at the moment - and there might never be.”

Another speaker at the news conference, the WHO Emergencies Head Mike Ryan, said countries with high transmission rates, including Brazil and India, needed to brace for a big battle. Ryan said “the way out is long and requires a sustained commitment,” calling for a “reset” of approach in some places.

“Some countries, he said, were going to have to take “a step back now and really take a look at how they are addressing the pandemic within their national borders.”

European countries see surge

Meanwhile, a number of nations in Europe that thought they were over the worst of the pandemic are currently experiencing a resurgence.

Britain’s health ministry reported 938 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, making it the second-highest daily total since June.

In France, the health authorities have reported nearly 3,400 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the last three days. The seven-day moving average for new cases has held above the 1,000 threshold for the 5th day in the row, meaning the country is experiencing levels not seen since a two-month lockdown.

Italy was the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe in its early stages and a new survey there shows that antibodies to the virus among the population are six times more prevalent than official data.

The survey by the Italian Statistics Agency Istat and the health ministry showed that almost 1.5 million people, or 2.5 percent of the population, have developed coronavirus antibodies.

The survey found marked local differences with the northern region of Lombardy, where the epidemic first broke out in February, showing 7.5% of the population had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. This compared to just 0.3% in the southern region of Sicily.

The survey found almost 30% of people with antibodies were asymptomatic, pointing to the risk of the illness being spread by people unaware they were carriers.

Listen to Susy Hodges' report

 

 

04 August 2020, 17:25