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Coronavirus pandemic could be over within two years – WHO head – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-53870798

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (file photo)Image copyright
Reuters

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Dr Tedros said globalisation had allowed the virus to spread more quickly

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be over in under two years.

Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Spanish flu of 1918 took two years to overcome.

But he added that current advances in technology could enable the world to halt the virus “in a shorter time”.

“Of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading,” he said.

“But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it, and the knowledge to stop it,” he noted, stressing the importance of “national unity, global solidarity”.

The deadly flu of 1918 killed at least 50 million people.

The coronavirus has so far killed almost 800,000 people and infected 22.7 million more.

Dr Tedros also responded to a question about corruption relating to personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, which he described as “criminal”.

“Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” he answered.

“However, corruption related to PPE… for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”

Although the question related to allegations of corruption in South Africa, a number of countries have faced similar issues.

On Friday, protests were held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi over alleged graft during the pandemic, while doctors from a number of the city’s public hospitals went on strike over unpaid wages and a lack of protective equipment.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

A demonstration took place in Nairobi on Friday

The same day, the head of the WHO’s health emergencies programme warned that the scale of the coronavirus outbreak in Mexico was “clearly under-recognised”.

Dr Mike Ryan said the equivalent of around three people per 100,000 were being tested in Mexico, compared to about 150 per 100,000 people in the US.

Mexico has the third highest number of deaths in the world, with almost 60,000 fatalities recorded since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In the US, meanwhile, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has attacked President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

“Our current president’s failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us. He’s failed to protect America,” Mr Biden said, and pledged to introduce a national mandate to wear masks if elected.

More than 1,000 new deaths were announced in the US on Friday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 173,490.

What’s happening elsewhere?

On Friday, a number of countries announced their highest numbers of new cases in months.

South Korea recorded 324 new cases – its highest single-day total since March.

As with its previous outbreak, the new infections have been linked to churches, and museums, nightclubs and karaoke bars have now been closed in and around the capital Seoul in response.

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Media captionAnother church, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was identified earlier this year as South Korea’s biggest virus cluster

A number of European countries are also seeing rises.

Poland and Slovakia both announced record new daily infections on Friday, with 903 and 123 cases respectively, while Spain and France have seen dramatic increases in recent days.

In Lebanon, a two-week partial lockdown – including a night-time curfew – has come into effect as the country saw its highest number of cases since the pandemic began.

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Media captionWhy has there been crisis after crisis in Lebanon?

Infections have doubled since a devastating blast in the capital Beirut killed at least 178 people and injured thousands more on 4 August.

The disaster left an estimated 300,000 people homeless and placed massive strain on medical facilities.

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