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We have hope but aren't safe until vaccine emerges: WHO

 

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Tribute: Hospital staff are showered with flower petals by a navy helicopter as part of an event to thank frontline staff in Mumbai, India. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

Tribute: Hospital staff are showered with flower petals by a navy helicopter as part of an event to thank frontline staff in Mumbai, India. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

AP

Tribute: Hospital staff are showered with flower petals by a navy helicopter as part of an event to thank frontline staff in Mumbai, India. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

The coronavirus will pose significant risks until vaccines are developed, the World Health Organisation's top emergencies expert has warned.

Irishman Mike Ryan said that while many countries were still in the eye of the storm, others were beginning to show it was possible to contain the disease to some extent.

"In that sense, there's hope," Mr Ryan said. "At a global level, the situation is still very, very serious but the pattern of the disease and the trajectory of the virus is very different in different parts of the world right now.

"What we're learning is that it is possible to get this disease under control and it is possible to begin resuming normal economic and social life, with a new way of having to do that, and with extreme caution and vigilance."

However, some countries in Africa and in Central and South America are still seeing "an upwards trajectory in cases" and although they may not appear to have a big problem yet, the availability of tests remains an issue, Mr Ryan noted.

Infections have been reported in 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December.

"We're in the middle of the fight of our lives - all of us around the world," Mr Ryan said. "There's going to be a significant and extended risk until we reach a point where we have a safe and effective vaccine available to all."

Mr Ryan said some countries, including China, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand and others, had reached what he described as "a steady state" with regard to the spread of Covid-19.

Europe and North America are only beginning to emerge from the worst of the crisis.

Irish Independent